A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Safe snow shoveling: Warm up, bend your knees and breathe

snow shovelingWhile 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: Walk around the block or 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.

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