Home / Heart Care / Dangers of shoveling snow: Heart attacks and back pain

Dangers of shoveling snow: Heart attacks and back pain

While snow shoveling is a great way to get in an old-fashioned work out (since it HAS to be done anyway), it also can cause a lot of health problems including heart attacks and back pain.

Practice safe snow shoveling technique

Follow these conditioning and technique recommendations to minimize those risks:

  • Breathe evenly. Exhale when pushing or lifting snow. Inhale between. Avoid holding your breath, which can cause changes in your blood pressure and increase stress on the heart.
  • Pace yourself. Take 5- or 10-minute breaks so fatigued muscles can rest. This will help you maintain proper technique and avoid injury.
  • Warm up before shoveling: Step in place; twist your torso from side to side, gently, and swing your arms in large circles.
  • Keep your knees bent. Make shoveling more of a leg exercise than an arm exercise.
  • Keep your toes pointed toward where you are moving. Avoid twisting at the waist.
  • Elbows should be at or near your sides. It’s best to push, rather than lift snow. Never throw snow over your shoulder; it may injure your back.

Shoveling safely reduces risk of heart attack

Risk of heart attack increases 16% following 8 inches of snow, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study also noted 60% of deaths and hospital admissions due to heart attack were in men, most commonly seen the day after a snowfall.

Practice shoveling snow safely to avoid risk of heart attacks.


dangers of shoveling snow heart attack back pain

For immediate care, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Find an urgent care location Find an emergency department location

Related Shine365 articles

Winter walking safety: Walk like a penguin

Prevent hypothermia, heart attacks in cold weather

Can you reverse frostbite? Time is tissue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *