Breathe in through your nose to warm the air and then exhale as you lift the snow. This helps set a rhythm for breathing that helps avoid overexerting your heart and lungs. It keeps you from holding your breath which can increase pressure in the chest.
Lift from the legs. Using your body’s biggest muscles will help lift the snow without putting so much strain on your back.
Wait to shovel until 45 minutes after you’ve had a big meal. Allowing your body to digest your meal will help to keep from redirecting much needed blood flow from the heart and muscles needed to shovel snow.
Take regular breaks to give your body time to rest. Allow your heartrate to return to normal. Have a glass of water to stay hydrated. And go inside to warm up, if your extremities feel cold.
If you have a serious chronic condition or are not in shape to tackle a heavy snow, don’t. There are plenty of young, healthy people who would enjoy making a some money shoveling snow.
Heart attack is one of the most deadly complications of shoveling snow. Approximately 100 people die of heart attacks while snow shoveling in the US every winter. The combination of forceful exertion while lifting and pushing snow can raise blood pressure and cause the heart to pump faster while the cold temperatures make your blood vessels constrict. That combination makes it harder for your heart to do its job particularly if you already have heart disease.
Hypothermia or low body temperature often occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat while shoveling. Your body only needs to drop a couple of degrees to put you in serious jeopardy.
Hyperthermia or high body temperature is possible if you overexert yourself and built up too much heat in heavy clothes while snow shoveling.
Anyone with a chronic breathing issue such as asthma or emphysema, should be cautious while shoveling snow because the cold air plus the exercise can trigger an attack.
Another common injury of snow shoveling is back injury. Snow is heavy and the repetitive motion of moving snow can cause pain, muscle strain or even a slipped disk.
If you injure yourself while shoveling, schedule an appointment. A good neuromuscular massage can ease the pain.
Heavy, spring snow can present a challenge to your health if you need to shovel your walks and driveway. The strain of shoveling in these conditions can lead to exhaustion or worse.
Take it easy. Don’t try to fill the shovel completely before moving the snow. Use an ergonomic shovel to help move the snow to the edges of the driveway instead of trying to lift and throw the snow. If you feel chest pain or shortness of breath. Stop. If the symptoms continue, call 911.
If you injure your back or if you feel stiff and sore after shoveling, a good neuromuscular massage can have you feeling better quickly.