Back to Top Skip to main content

The simple – and complicated – task of shoveling snow

Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Seifridsberger shovels knee-deep snow to build a simulated hasty firing position during training exercise Ready Force Breach at Fort Drum, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrew Carroll) Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Seifridsberger shovels knee-deep snow to build a simulated hasty firing position during training exercise Ready Force Breach at Fort Drum, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrew Carroll)

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Reserve Health Readiness Program | Health Readiness | Physical Activity

Mother Nature has spoken and the winter storm has arrived. Now it’s time for the hard part: clearing a driveway or sidewalk covered in snow. Depending on the temperature and amount of snow to be moved, such a task can be daunting, and without proper precautions, painful as well. There are, however, ways to clear snow safely.

According to Army Col. Cynthia Perry, a physician at Guthrie Ambulatory Health Clinic in Fort Drum, New York, an area accustomed to harsh, snowy winters, the most important consideration when preparing to shovel snow is dressing properly for the weather. Layers of clothing for warmth, non-skid shoes or boots to help prevent falls, and gloves to protect hands and fingers, are all part of the equation.

“Ensure you’re wearing layers that can be removed or loosened, if needed,” said Perry. “Cold injury to extremities makes us less stable, certainly less dexterous, and hampers coordination of fingers and feet, creating an environment for slips, trips, and falls.” Perry also advised wearing bright colors for visibility and making sure to tell someone that you will be outdoors shoveling to ensure if a mishap occurs, help is nearby.

“Snow shoveling is akin to a vigorous aerobic workout, so a person’s overall health is key to preventing injuries,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael S. Crowell, chief, Physical Therapy, Keller Army Community Hospital and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “Someone in good physical health year-round is going to have an easier time shoveling than someone who is in poor health or not a regular exerciser.”

Snow shoveling injuries can span a wide spectrum, from the nuisance of a sore back or shoulder to a life-threatening cardiac event.

“Many people’s bodies are unaccustomed to the physical exertion required to shovel snow,” said Perry, ‘but those with heart disease risk factors, such as uncontrolled blood pressure, or people who smoke have to be extra careful.” Perry suggested that trying to carry on a conversation while shoveling snow is an effective way to check exertion level. “If you find yourself out of breath, take a break.”

According to Crowell, another group can be vulnerable to cardiac or musculoskeletal snow-shoveling injuries. “Youth doesn’t make you invincible to injury,” he said. “I’ve treated young soldiers with wrist or collarbone fractures or other injuries that could be prevented with some common sense.”

The body’s ability to adjust to cold weather is another important injury risk, especially for those unaccustomed to such climates. “This is especially true for members of the military who often deploy to a variety of locations and climates,” says Crowell. “Even learning to walk on snow and ice is a skill.”

Some additional expert tips: Try not to scoop the snow; push it instead. Break shoveling into multiple short segments to minimize exposure to the cold and to give the body time to rest and recover. Or perhaps the best option of all: find a willing helper to do the shoveling for you.

You also may be interested in...

From Ghana to Washington, Sailor provides leadership during COVID-19

Article
9/10/2020
Female soldier with mask

Acquiring supplies, in general, has been a hurdle worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

Army radiology instructor and medic render assistance to crash victim

Article
9/2/2020
Mom and Dad in military gear with their young son.

Their medical training helped with knowing the steps for CPR and how to check responsiveness and breathing.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 9 - September 2020

Report
9/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2015–June 2020; Incidence of inguinal hernia and repair procedures and rate of subsequent pain diagnoses, active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019; Surveillance of spotted fever rickettsioses at Army installations in the U.S. Central and Atlantic regions, 2012–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Air Force updates medical courses with COVID-19 content, procedures

Article
8/24/2020
Two technicians in full PPE in a lab

COVID-19 has shed new light on the methods of conducting medical training and education.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

Air Force updates medical courses with COVID-19 content, procedures

Article
8/7/2020
Two lab technicians wearing full PPE handling vials for testing

COVID-19 has pushed instructors and trainers to be more innovative.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

Indiana National Guard continues to train in the COVID-19 environment

Article
8/5/2020
Soldiers in the field, wearing masks and testing equipment

Training in a time of COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 8 - August 2020

Report
8/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The limited role of vaccines in the prevention of acute gastroenteritis; Diarrhea and associated illness characteristics and risk factors among British active duty service members at Askari Storm training exercise, Nanyuki, Kenya, January–June 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks in military forces, 2015–2019; Update: Incidence of acute gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Defending the Homeland: NMRTC Bremerton ensures Operational Readiness and a Medically Ready Force

Article
7/22/2020
Three healthcare workers wearing masks

Supporting mission readiness has long been a responsibility for the ready medical force of NMRTC Bremerton.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

Eighth Army Medics compete to see Who’s the Best

Article
7/21/2020
Soldiers on an obstacle course

The BMC is an annual competition that physically and intellectually challenges competitors.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

I am Navy Medicine: Lt. Daniel Murrish

Article
7/9/2020
Image of Lt. Daniel Murrish wearing a mask

Murrish was recently selected as NMRTCCP’s Officer of the Year for calendar year 2019.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 7 - July 2020

Report
7/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hearing conservation measures of effectiveness across the Department of Defense; Alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and co-occurring injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Cervical cancer screening among U.S. military service women in the Millennium Cohort Study, 2003–2015; Epidemiology of functional neurological disorder, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Defending the Homeland: BACH Civilian earns RHC-A Civilian of the Year

Article
6/26/2020
Soldier and woman standing by two flags, crossed.

[Guidry] will advance to the U.S. Army’s Medical Command (MEDCOM) Civilian of the Year competition later this year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

NMCSD Civilian Receives BUMED Civilian Biomedical Technician of the Year Award

Article
6/24/2020
Technician wearing mask, adjusting medical equipment

Navy identifies its top Civilian biomedical technician of the year!

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Navy Care virtual health app wins innovation award

Article
6/12/2020
Soldier in front of a computer monitor

Navy Care offers a live, virtual visit with a clinician — from the patient's smartphone, laptop, or computer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Research and Innovation | Technology

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 6 - June 2020

Report
6/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Letter to the editor: G6PD deficiency in the Tafenoquine era; Summary of the 2018–2019 influenza season among Department of Defense service members and other beneficiaries; Brief report: Direct care cost of heat illness to the Army, 2016–2018; Animal-related injuries in veterinary services personnel, U.S. Army, 2001–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 38

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.