The American Heart Association (AHA) warns that snow shoveling can increase the risk of a heart attack for some people.
The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. The AHA suggests shoveling smaller amounts (or pushing snow when possible), taking frequent breaks, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before shoveling, and dressing in warm layers to avoid hypothermia.
As always, know the signs of a heart attack before you begin!
To avoid back injuries so common in snow shoveling, spine-health.com offers some excellent advice. Always warm-up for 5-10 minutes before starting to shovel (walk, march in place, etc). Also, do some stretches for your low back and hamstrings.
Always use the following ergonomic lifting techniques when shoveling:
- Make sure that you face towards the object you intend to lift – your shoulders and hips squarely facing it.
- Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Bend your knees and lift with your legs, keeping your back straight.
- Avoid twisting your back to move the snow – pivot your entire body towards the new direction.
- Do not extend your arms to throw the snow – keep the load close to your core.
- Walk to the snow to its new location rather than throwing or tossing it.