Snow-Shoveling Tips to Protect Your Hands and Wrists

Summit hand therapist Jared Venier, OTR/L, shares some snow-shoveling tips to help you protect your hands and wrists.


Many snow-shoveling injury prevention tips you’ll find concentrate on reducing risk to your back, your shoulders, or even your heart. But the gripping and lifting necessary to shovel snow can put your hands and wrists at risk of injury, too. From Summit hand therapist Jared Venier, OTR/L, here are some snow-shoveling tips to protect your hands and wrists.

Before concentrating on your hands, get your whole body ready by warming up before tackling snow removal. “It’s such a heavy task, especially here in Minnesota. Joints from head to toe are involved,” said Venier. He recommends starting with a dynamic warm-up, such as a brisk walk or a few jumping jacks.

Snow-shoveling tips to protect your hands and wrists

  • Start with some easy hand stretches.
  • Wear gloves with slip-resistant material, to prevent the shovel from sliding around.
  • Look for gloves that add warmth without adding bulk. “Make sure your gloves are not too thick, because thick gloves can reduce your ability to grasp,” Venier said.
  • If you have new gloves, break them in around the house for a couple of days before you go outside.
  • Use a snowblower if you have one, and if you do have a snowblower, make sure it fits you and that you know how to use it. “I’ve seen people sustain injuries from improper snowblower use,” Venier said.
  • When snow-shoveling, use a shovel that fits the job — for a big job, like a driveway, you want a push shovel. A scoop shovel is fine for smaller projects, like a patio. “You may also want to look into using a sleigh shovel, which lets you push with more leg force, rather than depending on your upper body so heavily,” Venier said. In general, use the right tool for the job.
  • During a sustained storm, shovel every 4 or 8 hours instead of waiting until the snow has stopped.
  • Pace yourself and take breaks. “Your injury risk goes up significantly if you’re exhausted,” Venier said.

Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise

The function of our hands is integrated through our wrists and arms to our shoulders; a problem anywhere along our arm may have a significant impact on hand function and quality of life. If you experience an injury or uncomfortable symptoms, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist surgeons are here to help. Summit physicians receive the highest levels of training and exclusively provide individualized care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Start your journey to better function and less pain. Find your hand expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

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