FAQ034: How do I stay safe shovelling the snow?

Shovelling Snow puts a lot Stress on our Backs and on our Hearts

We can’t deny that the winter season is upon us. With that comes the begrudged times where we take our shovels and head to the driveway to try to get our cars free. Every year, we  hear of stories where people have either thrown their backs out or unfortunately had a heart attack because of the exertion of shovelling snow. It’s hard work! Especially if you aren’t used to it!

Snow = Heavy lifting and lots of repetitions

When we are shovelling snow, we are moving heavy weights and heaving them onto a pile over and over again. Low back pain is one of the biggest contributors to disability in the world and so hurting our backs in the snow is not ideal. Therefore, we need to make sure we’re taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves.

Protecting the back

Here are some tips to protect the back (some of them I go into in the video!)

  • Push the snow as far as you can
  • Lift in small chunks onto the pile
  • Lift straight on and use the knees
  • Don’t TWIST
  • Take breaks if you need to (especially if you aren’t exercising right now!)

Protecting the heart

The other thing about shovelling snow is that it is a lot of exertion on the body. If your body isn’t used to it, it can be tough for your body to recover. Heart attacks because of shovelling snow are, unfortunately, too common.

Here are some tips to protect the heart (some of them I go into in the video!).

  • Take the shovelling in smaller bouts if you need to
  • Stay outside a little bit longer to let your heart rate come down
  • Lift in smaller chunks (less exertion)
  • If you have had heart issues, getting someone else to do this for you may be the best option.

We’ve talked a lot about low back pain in previous articles and videos – it’s a big deal. Keep yourself safe this winter and embrace the outdoors!

If you’ve had a heart attack in the past, maybe snow shovelling isn’t for you but EXERCISE is! Physiotherapy can be one option to get you started. Here is an article about why you need to get back at it (or start if you haven’t in the past!).

Christina Prevett

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