How to Clear Snow Safely
Taking care of the white stuff can be hard on your health—unless you follow these tips
Snow Scoop Shovel: $35, Fiskars
After 2 minutes of shoveling, a fit person’s heart rate jumps to 86 percent of its max capacity. For less strain, says John Forrest, M.D., a heart-health expert at Yale University, push the snow forward.
If you must lift, pay attention to these tips:
Choose the right tool: An ergonomic shovel encourages proper form. The aluminum shaft of the 51-inch Fiskars model (shown) is lightweight, and its nonslip grips reduce hand fatigue.
Think small: A heavy load can cause you to lose your balance or pull a muscle. And be wary of snow that’s wet, Dr. Forrest says, as heavy lifting can push blood pressure levels up too high.
Lift smart: To avoid injuring your lower back, as you lift, bend at the knees and hips. Always avoid twisting your torso: Turn your whole body instead.
Throw it low: Instead of building one big pile, which requires throwing your load higher and higher, distribute the snow over a wide area—alongside a path, for example.
Switch it up: You’re likely to feel most comfortable with your dominant hand on, say, the handle, but your shoulders will thank you if you periodically swap hand positions and give that arm a break.
Give it a rest: “Listen to your body,” Dr. Forrest says, and take breaks. One benefit of regular exercise, he notes, is that you know what’s normal for you. In any case, do not ignore chest pains.
Treat yourself: Soothe sore muscles with a heating pad and an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. Hot cocoa with marshmallows probably won’t hurt, either.
Thanks to John K. Forrest, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Yale University, and director, Structural Heart Disease Program at Yale New Haven Hospital.