Believe it or not, shoveling snow can be compared to strength training, and aerobically it’s similar to exercising on a treadmill! So just like exercise, there are things that you can do to reduce your risk of injury. Senior athletic trainer Sherrie Northrup with the Lake Health Sports Medicine team offers this advice to stay safe when shoveling snow this winter:
- First, would your physician say you’re physically fit for shoveling snow? People with a history of heart problems, back pain or other medical conditions that prohibit moderate exercise shouldn’t shovel snow. Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure.
- Don’t eat or smoke before shoveling. And avoid caffeine, which can increase your heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict.
- Warm up and stretch before you shovel. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Hydration is especially important in the winter, when you may not feel thirsty.
- To help prevent falls, wear appropriate footwear and use salt or a de-icer.
- Dress in layers, wear a hat to retain body heat, gloves that are padded to prevent blisters and a scarf to cover your mouth and nose.
- Choose a snow shovel that is ergonomically correct for you. Look for one with a curved handle to help maintain good posture. Consider using a shovel with a smaller blade to make the load lighter or purchase a shovel designed to push the snow instead of lifting it.
Shoveling snow can be risky
It’s important to remember that shoveling snow can be strenuous exercise, especially with heavy snow or extremely cold temperatures. If you experience pain, shortness of breath or chest pain, stop shoveling immediately. Seek medical care right away if you suspect a heart issue, frostbite or a bone or muscle injury.
Sports injury care close to home
If you’ve had a sports-related injury, the Lake Health Sports Medicine team can help you get back in the game. Lake Health has a Fast Track Sports Injury Clinic, held Monday through Friday from 7 am to 10:30 am at the Brunner Sanden Deitrick Wellness Campus. An athletic trainer will perform an evaluation and administer treatment in accordance with state laws and physician guidance. You can even check in online.