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Man bundled in blue parka and snow goggles holds a shovel during heavy snowfall
Dec 26 2023

Don’t let the snow get you down: Tips for safe snow shoveling

December 26, 2023  /   Emergency, Rehabilitation  /   3-minute read

We’re well into winter, and while the snow has eluded us so far, it won’t be long before we’re breaking out the snow shovels. This seasonal necessity can quickly turn into an often dreaded and sometimes potentially painful workout. But fear not, snow warriors! Welia Health is here to help you conquer your winter wonderland without getting sore or injured.

Be heart smart

  • Listen to your healthcare provider: If you have heart concerns, check in with your healthcare team before hitting the snow.
  • Shovel smart, not hard: Avoid shoveling while smoking, eating, or right after drinking that caffeinated cup of joe or soda.
  • Don’t overdo it: Take breaks, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Dress for the weather

  • Layer up: Think of a warm base and outer layers you can remove if you feel overheated. Why? Read more about the basics of layering.
  • No cotton next to your skin: Cotton traps moisture, potentially making you chilly. Opt for wool or fleece fabrics.
  • Protect your extremities: Mittens are warmer than gloves, and a hat and scarf will keep your face cozy. 

Hydrate like it’s summer

  • Water is your best friend: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your shoveling adventure. 
  • Sports drinks are a good option, too: Replenish electrolytes with a sports drink if you’re sweating it out.

Dive deeper and learn more about the risk of dehydration during the winter months.

Warm up before you dig in

  • Stretch: Just like with any workout, stretching and warming up your muscles and joints can help you avoid injuries.
  • Start slow and steady: Don’t go all out right away. You’ll need to give your body time to adjust to the colder temperatures and the exertion.
The handle of a red shovel pushing snow off of a driveway

Snow shoveling 101

  • Fresh is best: Tackle the snow early before it becomes packed down and gets heavy.
  • Watch for ice: Wear ice cleats or spikes on your boots because there may be icy patches hidden under the snow. Remember to walk like a penguin for extra stability.
  • Take it easy: Pace yourself and take occasional breaks. 
  • Protect your back: Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and lift with your legs.
  • Don’t overdo it: Use a smaller shovel or fill a larger one only halfway.
  • Listen to your body: Stop and rest if you feel pain or fatigue. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Safety first

  • Be mindful of machinery: Keep a safe distance from snow blowers and plows, and turn them off before clearing jams. More snowblower safety guidelines.
  • Keep kids and pets away: Children and animals may get injured near snow removal equipment. Although the stream of beautiful snow flying from the snowblower looks cool, it could contain flying rocks, debris or ice chunks. 
  • Have your phone handy: You’ll be ready to call for help in an emergency.

Remember: Snow shoveling can be a great way to get some winter exercise. But safety is critical. So grab your shovel, bundle up, and get out there! And if you do start to feel pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to come to see us at Welia Health. We’re here to help you stay healthy all winter long.

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