Snow storms are dangerous business. Every year, roughly 100 people die from shoveling snow, mostly due to heart attacks. When artery-constricting cold air combines with the increased blood pressure and heart rate caused by sudden shoveling, the result can be cardiac arrest. Moreover, upwards of 11,000 people end up in the hospital with snow shoveling-related injuries like broken bones, torn muscles and thrown backs each year. Don’t be one of those shmucks.
1. Warm up and stretch it out. Tight, cold muscles are just begging for injuries. You might feel silly, but for the love of your back, do a few sets of jumping jacks or walk quickly around the house before heading out. Don’t forget to lean over and reach for your toes a few times, stretch your arms straight up to the ceiling and give yourself a big, swaying bear hug for about 30 seconds, too.
2. Practice good form. If you don’t have an ergonomic shovel, remember that bending from the knees – not your back – is how to prevent an injury. Don’t try to Hulk-out on the snow and lift too much at a time, pushing the snow around is just as effective as lifting it. And, when moving the snow around, walk to where you want to dump it off instead of trying to toss it.
Remember that bending from the knees – not your back – is how to prevent an injury.
(JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
3. Pace yourself. Blizzards are marathons, not sprints. If you can, get out there early and give yourself a head-start on the storm. Preventative measures like salting or kitty littering (it’s a thing) the sidewalk and shoveling over the course of the day will help prevent a situation where you’re stuck in the house, buried under a foot and a half of powder. While you’re at it, if you start feeling winded, take a break.
4. Pay someone else to do it. Let’s face it: Some of us are too old, injury-prone or just plain lazy to shovel our own snow. That’s what kids are for. Chances are there’s a cheap, for-hire kid or two in the neighborhood with a shovel and an abundance of youthful energy willing to dig you out. Let them.