Get the scoop! Healthy tips for shoveling snow

As temperatures drop, your risk of injury may arise. Snow and ice are here to stay for the season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Here are several tips for staying safe this winter.

*If you have a chronic condition or joint injury, please consult your doctor before shoveling snow

1. Drink plenty of water. Shoveling snow can be a lengthy, physically demanding task. It’s important to stay hydrated both during and after shoveling to prevent dehydration. Take small breaks in between and keep a water bottle nearby.

2. Layer up. Make sure to wear a few breathable layers of clothing while shoveling. This may include a base layer (long underwear, dry-fit long-sleeve shirt), a light, cotton, zip-up sweatshirt, an insulated jacket, waterproof gloves, and a winter hat. Try to wear light layers that you can easily take off if you get too hot. Avoid wearing heavy wools or other materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate to prevent overheating.

If not dressed properly, you’re also at risk for hypothermia. Hypothermia is a serious medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. If you experience symptoms of hypothermia, such as shivering, slurred speech, weak pulse, confusion, memory loss etc. please seek medical help immediately.

3. Protect your heart. Avoid caffeine or nicotine before shoveling, they may increase heart rate and put extra stress on your heart. Start slowly, pace yourself and take breaks to avoid a sudden demand on your heart.

4. Warm upTreat snow shoveling like any workout. Stretching will help prevent muscle straining and soreness. Walking or marching in place for a few minutes are also good ways to warm up your muscles before shoveling. As in exercising, warm muscles function better.

5. Know your form. Remember, “push, don’t lift.” Pushing snow to the side puts less stress on your body and prevents a pulled muscle. If you must lift, please keep these tips in mind: stand hip-width apart, bend your knees and keep your back straight, lift small amounts of snow at a time and don’t twist while dumping the snow. Also, make sure you pick the right shovel. A smaller blade lifts less snow, putting less stress on your body.

Garden City Hospital wishes you a safe and healthy winter season! If you find you do need a doctor, we’re here for you. Please call 877-717-9355 for a referral to a Garden City Hospital physician.