Heavy Lifting: Snow Shoveling Can Land You in Urgent Care

Posted on November 15, 2018

Category: Physical Injury

A fresh layer of fallen snow is a beautiful sight to behold, but it can also pose a serious risk to your health if you don’t take the proper precautions. Learn more about how to protect your health while shoveling snow with this safe shoveling checklist.


If there’s enough snow to shovel, odds are there’s enough to hurt yourself if you’re not lifting it properly. When it’s wet, even a small shovelful of snow can weigh enough to hurt your back. In the winter months, back sprains and strains are common for people who attempt to improperly lift wet, heavy snow. Protect your back and body from the weight by using your legs and arms to lift the load instead of your back. If you can, avoid lifting the snow all together by pushing the snow around rather than lifting it.


As the snow melts, the water can refreeze and form a slippery layer of ice beneath the snow’s surface. When shoveling, be sure to wear shoes with a durable, rubber tread to avoid slipping, and be cautious when walking across potentially dangerous surfaces. Bring a bucket of snow salt with you to help melt the ice and give yourself more traction when walking.

Overdoing It

Snow shoveling is a particularly demanding activity for your heart. When shoveling snow, your heart needs far more oxygen than when it is at rest. If you are healthy, your heart can manage the increased oxygen demand easily but, for people with blockages in their coronary vessels that limit blood flow, the increased demand can cause you to go into cardiac arrest. If your heart is healthy, you can help keep it that way by giving it some time to rest before going inside and by warming up gradually once you’re done shoveling. If you have been diagnosed with or are at risk for coronary heart disease, consult with your doctor before shoveling snow.

Shoveling snow can be a healthy form of exercise, but it does not come without risks. Taking a few steps to protect your health this winter can keep your snowy season cheery and free of injury. Practice safe snow-shoveling this winter by taking steps to lift lightly, skip slipping, and keep your heart healthy.