Safety Tips for Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow can be a real workout. Every year thousands of people report back problems, muscle strains, and even heart attacks linked to shoveling. Take it from the physical therapists at Virtua Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, be smart when you venture into the snow and follow this inside "scoop" on how to shovel.

1. Do a 15 Minute Warm-up Stretch

Prepare for snow removal with a good stretch that will loosen your muscles and reduce soreness afterward. Considering that the average shovel full of snow is around 15 pounds, that can add up to a lot of strain. Some arm and leg stretches will keep the limbs limber, while stretching out the back can help avoid muscle strain.

2. Buy the Right Shovel

Choose a shovel with a medium-size blade. Less snow means less lifting. Avoid snow shovels with straight handles; the ergonomic, curved designs are best. Lift with your legs, not your shoulders or back. Keep your waist straight and don't twist your back to throw the snow to the side. Instead, prevent soreness by taking a step in the direction you want to throw the snow.

3. Have a Plan before Starting

Don't just start at the top of the driveway and work your way to the street—there is a more efficient method. Shovel a straight line down the center of the driveway. Then, attack the buildup from the snow plows at the end of the driveway while you are fresh and energized. Go back up one side of the driveway and push what snow you can from the center line off to the side. Repeat on the other side to avoid carrying snow or twisting from side to side to throw it.

Updated June 26, 2017

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