Snow isn’t dangerous only for driving conditions. Shoveling the stuff causes tens of thousands of injuries or medical emergencies every year, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine—and that’s just counting people who wind up in an emergency department.
The stress of removing snow most frequently hurts the lower back, causing muscle strain and serious back injury. Follow these steps to reduce the risk:
- Before starting, limber up for 10 minutes to warm and loosen muscles.
- Shovel snow early and often. Newly fallen snow is much lighter than densely packed snow.
- Push snow with your shovel rather than lifting it. If you must lift snow, squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Do not bend at the waist.
- Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. Twisting stresses the back.
- Pace yourself and take frequent breaks, because shoveling snow is an aerobic activity. Drink water to prevent dehydration.
- Wear proper footwear such as snow boots so you don’t slip and fall.
- If you have a medical condition or are out of shape, talk to your doctor before shoveling snow.