How to Avoid Injury While Shoveling Snow

January 24, 2016

If you’re like many, you probably have cabin fever from being cooped up during all of the snow.

What better time than to get outside and start shoveling! But, before you start to dig out, keep these tips in mind to make sure that you keep your body healthy while tackling that mound of snow in your driveway.

  1. Check with your doctor first.  Cold weather, by itself, can put a strain on the heart. Shoveling also increases the amount of work that the heart has to do (it actually can be very taxing on the heart). If you have heart or lung problems it is especially important that you check with your doctor first before starting to shovel.
  2. Don’t be impatient. This is not a race! One of the reasons why many get injured shoveling snow is because they want to tackle ALL of the snow ALL at once. Its best to go slow with shoveling. Shovel in stages so that the snow won’t build up and you can shovel smaller amounts over time.
  3. Be Pushy. To avoid a back injury when shoveling snow, push the snow out of the way rather than lifting it. (your back will thank you, trust me)
  4. Avoid the Twist. If you must lift snow, instead of throwing the snow over your shoulder, walk the snow to the location that you want. This will help avoid back strain caused by twisting motions.
  5. Downsize. The American Heart Association recommends using a smaller shovel when moving snow. I think this is a great idea. This will help prevent overloading your shovel with too much snow which can cause back strain.

Finally, make sure you go slow, take frequent breaks and listen to your body when shoveling. Also, don’t forget to hydrate properly!

Happy Snow Shoveling!

Dr. Jen

Dr. Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. She appears regularly on television as a media expert and appears regularly on CBS Philadelphia News, Fox News, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, HuffPostLive, Doctors Radio (Sirius) and others. Visit at, and follow her on twitter/Instagram at @drjencaudle.
Information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical consultation or serve as a substitute for medical advice provided by a physician or qualified medical professional.
snow shoveling

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