Snow Shoveling Advice!

Every winter we spend countless hours digging our way through the snow. Shoveling is a strenuous activity and is a common cause of slips and falls leading to back injuries and other strained muscles in the winter months. These injuries can be quite severe and may even result in broken bones if you aren’t careful.

Dressing appropriately for the outdoors is the first step to clearing that driveway. Putting on the appropriate gear will help keep you warm and safe. Having a pair of boots with good treads is important to keep you from slipping and falling as well as keeping your feet warm and dry. It may be necessary to wear multiple layers to keep warm – using light layers will allow you to remove items if you start to overheat. Remember to wear a hat and gloves or mittens as heat is most easily lost through these extremities.

Things to keep in mind when selecting a shovel:

  • Shovels with plastic blades are ideal because they are lightweight and will reduce the amount of weight you are moving
  • Pick a shovel that is an appropriate size for you: Larger shovels result in pushing and lifting heavy loads compared to small shovels which require many paths and a longer duration of shoveling
  • Curved handles or adjustable handle lengths can minimize painful bending

Use proper technique to avoid injury:

  • Always stretch or start slowly with small loads to warm up your body
  • Position your body with your hands about shoulder width apart to provide leverage and greater stability
  • Push snow to one side of the driveway or walkway instead of lifting it
  • Make sure to bend at the knees and hips and avoid bending and lifting solely with your back
  • Keeping heavy loads close to your body will help reduce the risk of muscle strains
  • Avoid twisting your back – toss snow directly in front of you or pivot by turning your feet
  • For some DOs and DON’Ts  please see the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKue33V8704

Other tips:

  • Shoveling frequently can lighten your load on days with expected heavy snowfall – going out every couple hours will result in several smaller and lighter loads rather than one large, heavy load
  • Salt, sand and kitty litter can help to speed up melting and provide traction to minimize slips and falls
  • Shoveling can be strenuous, so take breaks as necessary and make sure to stay hydrated – have a glass of water or a hot beverage when you finish
  • If you have health concerns that may impact your ability to shovel safely, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and back or joint pain, you may want to consult a health professional and take extra precautions during snow removal

Finally, if it is financially feasible, you may want to consider investing in a snow blower or hiring someone else to do the job!

Photo Credit: moominmolly via Compfight cc