Winter safety: snow shovelling


Winter is upon us! This time of year changes the landscape and gives us an excuse to warm up by the fireplace at night. However, with the onset of winter comes cold weather, snow packed driveways, and icy sidewalks. These three features of winter can cause injury from head to toe if we are not careful.


Here are some ways to stay safe while still enjoying the winter wonderland:


“It’s (s)no(w) problem!”

Many of us rise to the challenge of clearing our driveways of snow, but how many of us realize the dangers involved? Studies done by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine show that over 11,000 American adults suffer from snow shovelling injuries each year and nearly 100 die from the activity. Injuries range from sore backs to broken bones—even heart attacks!


What causes this?

-       Cold temperatures

-       Extreme workload and exertion

-       Improper footwear

-       Repetitive twisting and bending

-       Lack of self-care


Here are our tips on how to prevent injury while shovelling snow:

1.     Assess your own fitness or see your doctor. Getting outside and shovelling snow is great exercise! But if you have aches and pains or feel unprepared for the job, consider seeing a doctor first and then asking a friend or family member for help.

2.     Warm-up! Snow shovelling is just like any other exercise. Since it is in cold temperatures, more emphasis should be placed on warming up your muscles.

 Tips for warming up at home:

  • Cardio:

    • Get moving! 4-6 minutes of bike, treadmill, jump rope, elliptical or high knees if able.

  • Dynamic stretching & activation:

    • 10 reps of each - lunges, squats, leg swings, arm swings


3.     Dress for success. Put on your winter jacket, get those gloves on, and keep the heat in with a toque. Keeping the body warm will be beneficial to preventing injury.

4.     Wear proper footwear. Avoid shoes and boots that lack good traction. Invest in a winter boot that can keep you upright and that can keep the feet warm.

5.     Keep good form. Pushing and lifting properly are essential to keeping you injury-free.

Tips for good form:

  • Push the snow more than you lift

  • When lifting snow:

    • Keep your feet hip-width apart

    • Lift with your legs

    • Do not over-rotate or overreach

    • Lift small amounts!


6.     Take breaks. What’s the hurry? By pacing yourself, taking necessary breaks, and staying hydrated, you will feel much better at the end of the day and have still accomplished the same task.


Let’s keep our bodies healthy this winter season! Movement is everything.

Robbie de Fleuriot