Now that the winter snow has made its way to Pittsburgh, it is important to recognize safe practices for shoveling your snow. Although it can be great exercise, shoveling snow can also pose some serious health risks including sore muscles, lower back pain, exhaustion, and even heart attacks.
Get a head start
Avoid caffeine and nicotine before shoveling
Dress in layers
Stretch and warm-up before you begin shoveling
As with any exercise, getting your muscles loose and warm before you begin will lessen your chance of injury. We recommend walking or jogging in place, as well as fully stretching your arms, legs, and back.
Pick a shovel that works best for you
Using a shovel with a smaller blade will be lighter to lift, as well as limit the amount of snow you can pick up. There are also shovels with curved handles that are designed to take some of the strain off of your back.
Good posture is key
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bending at your knees and using your leg muscles as much as possible. Do not bend at your back. Keep the shovel close to your upper body and always avoid twisting or throwing snow over your shoulder. If you need to deposit snow in another direction, reposition your feet first to prevent putting excess stress on your back which could lead to serious injury.
Push the snow, don’t lift it
Take frequent breaks
Don’t overexert yourself
Note: Shoveling snow is a physical activity which can place a demand on your heart that can cause serious health concerns. Certain people should not shovel snow and it is important that you speak to your doctor before partaking in this physical activity. These people include: