Simple, Safe & Smart: Snow Removal Tips

Simple, Safe & Smart: Snow Removal Tips

by Margaret Moraw, OTR/L, CHT3 Comments

Big beautiful white flakes are coating the crab apple tree outside the bay window. It is such a beautiful way to start a Saturday morning while sipping coffee. The beauty of the snow is mesmerizing, but then reality hits. There are groceries to be bought, sporting events to compete in and a birthday party to attend. That means this beautiful, mesmerizing snow is soon going to be the bane of a home dwellers existence.

If you are a homeowner or renter that lives in a climate that experiences all four seasons, you may also be responsible for maintaining a safe space despite the elements.. When the snow comes there are three options: 1) Hire a service, 2) Shovel, or 3) Use a snow blower. If the latter of the two are your choices, there are some important guidelines that should be kept top of mind to protect your body during snow removal.

Shoveling Tips

It is estimated that 11,500 snow shoveling injuries occur annually.1 Here are a few tips that can help minimize the risk of these injuries when shoveling:

  • Correct Equipment: As with all tasks, having the right equipment makes the job easier. Choose a shovel that is lightweight and easy to handle. Consider if you need a shovel for pushing snow or lifting snow, as there are specific designs for each. Pushing is a better choice than lifting or pulling when considering body mechanics.
  • Use Your Whole Body: Whether you are pushing or lifting snow, make sure to use your legs. Do not bend at your waist, as it may put you at risk for a back injury. When pushing, your strength should come from your hips and legs. When lifting, bend your knees so that your power comes from your legs and core muscles. If you would like further guidance on proper body mechanics and joint protection when shoveling, please call your local Athletico for a free assessment.
  • Take Breaks: if you feel fatigued, stop and take a break. If you push through fatigue you may put yourself at risk for an overuse injury. In the event that you have lasting pain after shoveling, do not wait to address it. A free assessment at your local Athletico can help you identify treatment options for your pain.

Snow Blower Tips

Almost 600 finger amputations occur each year due to snow blower injuries.2 Here are a few tips that can help minimize the risk of these injuries when snow blowing:

  • Safety First: Never attempt to clear a clogged snow blower with your hand! First, turn off the snow blower. Next use an unclogging tool to clean the snow from the chute (safe chute cleaning tools can be found at your local hardware store). Remember, once unclogged, your snow blower blades may “kickback.” The sharp blades and the kickback are often the cause of hand injuries and finger loss when attempting to incorrectly unclog the snow blower.
  • Be Careful of Wet Snow: Wet snow often clogs the snow blower. You can attempt to prevent this from happening prior to starting the snow blower by using a nonstick spray on the chute.
  • Move Quickly: If you move slowly, snow is more likely to accumulate and stick. This may mean you need make two passes in some locations, but it won’t necessarily take more time, especially if you are preventing a clog.

As winter weather occurs, follow these simple, safe and smart snow tips to minimize the risk of injuries this season. Should lingering aches or pains occur after snow removal, click the button below to schedule a free assessment at a nearby Athletico clinic. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth service.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Snow shovel-related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US EDs, 1990 to 2006.
Watson DS, et al. Am J Emerg Med. 2011.
2. Snowblowers Pose Dangerous Risk for Amputations,
JANUARY 6, 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Ryan

    Thanks for making this blog. I appreciate how you included shoveling tips that can save a lot of people from injury!

  2. SimplyGardenLife

    Thanks, I moved from a snow shovel to an electric snow blower myself. Its much quicker and less back breaking when trying to remove snow from my drive.

  3. Lisa Daniels

    Hi there! I agree that we should take a break when using a snow shovel to avoid fatigue. It’s really exhausting to shovel thick and heavy snow. Others are using oil spray for the snow not to stick on the shovel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *