It’s that time of year when gym members hobble in with snow shoveling injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2004 more than 44,000 people were treated for snow blowing and snow shoveling injuries. A few preventive measures go a long way. Share some of the following tips from Pam Pedlow, MHK, MES, founder of Fitness, Function & Performance in North Vancouver, British Columbia, with your class and clients:

  • Think of snow removal as a lower-body, not an upper-body, activity.
  • Always scoop or push snow in the direction you plan to “store” it.
  • Avoid twisting the torso with a loaded shovel.
  • When pushing snow, lower the handle to hip height, engage the core muscles*, set the shoulders** and then use the legs to power the push.
  • Push snow as far as possible until you meet too much resistance, and then scoop it away.
  • Scoop smaller loads more frequently, instead of trying to clear the area with one scoop.
  • Stand in a narrow lunge stance with feet shoulder distance apart. Hold the shovel like a hockey stick, set the core and shoulders, and then bend the legs, scooping a half-full load. Straighten the legs and use this energy to fling (think shuffleboard) the snow forward.
  • Frequently alternate the primary leg and hand. For example, do 10 scoops with the right leg and right arm forward and 10 scoops with the left leg and left arm forward. This will help you avoid getting a snow shoveling injury by overusing the same muscles.