How to Shovel Snow Safely

December 3rd, 2014 by

Snow Shoveling Tips: How to Avoid Injury and Get it Done Safely

In Southwest Montana, we see our fair share of heavy snowfalls. Sometimes it comes down as our beloved cold smoke, and other times it comes down a sopping mess. Either way, that snow needs to get shoveled, and there are a few things you can do to make shoveling snow easier and more efficient.

Pick the Right Size of Shovel

Growing up my family had a monster shovel. It was 3 ½ feet across, and pushed snow like nothing else. However, the shovel was designed to be used by someone much taller than my 12 year old self.

You see the same thing going the other direction. Tall men and women trying to use very short shovels. This leads to a lot of unnecessary bending over, and most likely a trip to a local chiropractor. By using a properly sized shovel, one that doesn’t require an excessive bend at the back or knees, you can prevent a lot of strain on your back muscles and spine.

Pace Yourself

If you are anything like me, then you like to get your driveway shoveled before work. Unfortunately, this can often lead to me moving at breakneck speeds, and not focusing on how I’m actually moving any of the snow. The correct pace differs from person to person, so there isn’t an “official” pace you should follow. However, we absolutely recommend listening to your body, and not pushing yourself too hard.

Wear Boots with Good Traction

Since you are going to be pushing, turning and moving around in the snow you will want to make sure that you are wearing boots with good traction. By limiting slips you can minimize the potential for injuries as well as embarrassment. A great way to enhance your traction is to have some sand or rock salt to use as you shovel. Sand and salt can improve your traction, and limit the impact of any ice build up.

Stretch Before You Start and When You Are Done

Stretch your back, hamstrings and arms out before you get started. This is less to do with mobility, and a lot more to do with just getting warmed up. You are going to be doing 10-30 minutes of physical exercise, and your body should be prepared for that. Stretching will help warm you up, and get you ready for all that activity.