Shoveling season is upon us! Do you know how to shovel safely to avoid injury??
Keep reading to learn about the mistakes you DON’T want to make.
Every year we keep getting bombarded with snow, and every year it still seems to take us by surprise. At the first snowfall, we collectively sigh as we dust off the ol’ shovel and get to work.
Here are some tips so you can shovel safely and avoid unnecessary injury this winter!
- Warm up your body. Take a brisk 5-minute snowy walk or––at the very least––perform some dynamic stretches for your back, legs, arms, and shoulders. Get that body moving!
- Pace yourself! If you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain, nausea, or sweating STOP immediately. You don’t have anything to prove by getting the job done faster. Listen to your body and honour what it is trying to tell you.
- This one goes along with #2… take REST and STRETCH breaks. If the snowfall is a big one that day, try tackling it in 15 minute increments. Drink your water (and maybe some hot chocolate), throw a snowball or two at your child, stretch it out, and then get back to work.
- Dress warmly with several layers! The warmer you are, the less of a rush you will be in. Breathe in the crisp air and settle into the warmth of your jacket, toque, boots, and gloves. And on that note: wear gloves that give you a good grip on your shovel, and boots with a good tread on the bottom. We don’t need any falls around here!
Ah yes, an excellent question: which shovel should I use? It is important to choose the right shovel for the job. You’ll want to find a shovel that:
- is lightweight
- has a handle that sits at your chest height (to decrease forward bending)
- has a smaller blade (so you aren’t tempted to lift Everest-sized mounds of snow)
If you want to think outside of the box, you might consider investing in a “sleigh shovel” (see the picture below). DO NOT lift snow with this shovel. It is designed for pushing snow. The handles are positioned around elbow height allowing for you to stand upright as you clear that darn driveway once again. Don’t break your back––give your back a break!
Apparently they are also great for pushing small children around… 😉
And if we want to get into the ergonomics of shoveling…
- Keep your feet hip width apart with your front foot close to the shovel.
- Keep your weight on the front foot.
- Use your legs to help push into the snow.
- When lifting, bend your knees, keep your core muscles tight, and lift with your legs as you shift your body weight to your back foot. Breathe out while tossing the snow.
- Keep the snow load as close to your body as you can.
- Avoid twisting!! Turn your feet in the direction you are dumping the snow.
Okay, that’s it, folks! We know shoveling can be a daunting task but try to make the most of it. Slow down this holiday season, enjoy this winter wonderland we call home, and get the job done.
Stay safe and warm out there, friends. We are always here if you need us.
Yours in health,
The Harmony Chiropractic & Wellness Team