DIY snow removal can be a serious workout. 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 handy snow shoveling tips.
Tips for Shoveling Snow
Choose the right tool
An ergonomic shovel encourages proper form. The aluminum shaft of the 51-inch Fiskars snow shovel is lightweight, and its nonslip grips reduce hand fatigue.
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.
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 sore muscles
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.