Tips for Snow Shovelling


Ice and snow are hazardous. Each year, Canadians slip and fall straining muscles and even braking bones when they are removing snow. Here are a few tips from to make snow removal safer and easier.

Warm up or start slow

  • Warm up your muscles by stretching your legs, doing some back stretches and arm swings
  • A light pushing motion of a small amount of snow will also help to warm up the body

Proper gear

  • A shovel that is too big for you may mean you have to push and lift 20 pounds of snow; one too small will make 1000 paths and take you much longer
  • Wear proper footwear. Good treads on winter boots are a must
  • Don’t overdress or you could overheat

Good Positioning

  • A broad-based grasp with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart on the handle will provide you with the leverage necessary to complete the task efficiently

Add Some Sand or Salt

  • For hard packed snow, consider adding salt or sand to speed up melting and to provide some traction

Lifting and Bending

  • Always lift with the larger muscles of your legs and bend at your knees. Avoid bending and lifting solely with your back
  • Don’t forget to “breathe” when lifting
  • When tossing the snow avoid twisting your back – toss the snow directly in front of you
  • Shovel several smaller and lighter loads rather than one large load

Don’t Overdo it

  • Shovelling snow is like any strenuous activity. Plan rest breaks throughout.
  • If you are at risk of heart disease, have a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure or back and joint pain, consult a health care professional before attempting any strenuous activity including snow shovelling.

Finally, if you can afford it, consider a snow blower or hiring someone else to do the job!

Angela Mitrovic PT, Physiotherapist, and Myra Del Rosario OT Reg. (Ont.), Occupational Therapist

Credit Valley Hospital