Tips for Shoveling Safelyby Liz Hoobchaak | 1 Comment
We have been very lucky with this mild winter so far, but we can’t avoid the snow forever. Although falling snow is very pretty and makes for a festive feel, it leaves us the task of having to clear our driveways and walkways. Shoveling can be very taxing on the body, leading to injuries, sore muscles, and even catastrophic events. Here are some safety tips on how to avoid injury this winter once the snow decides to finally make an appearance.
Warm up your muscles with some light movement prior to shoveling. This can be walking for a few minutes, marching in place or doing arm circles. Shoveling can be a very physical activity and warming up beforehand will reduce your risk of injury to a muscle.
Avoid caffeine or nicotine prior to shoveling. Both of these substances increase heart rate and may place extra stress on the heart due to constriction of blood vessels. Since shoveling can be a vigorous activity, you want to ensure that you are not stressing your heart beyond a healthy limit.
Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Shoveling can be a strenuous physical activity, especially with heavy wet snow. Even though you are out in the cold and may not feel sweaty, you are working hard and need to replenish your muscles.
Use a proper shovel. Use a smaller shovel so you are not lifting as much at one time. Plastic shovels will weigh less than metal shovels and reduce your overall load. Also, make sure the handle is long enough to avoid from bending forward too much.
Protect your back. Avoid throwing the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This twisting motion can cause excess strain on the back and lead to injury. When possible, push the snow instead of lifting it.
Watch your step! Be very careful of icy conditions when shoveling. Individuals with balance problems or weakness in their legs should take extra precautions when attempting to shovel. Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Keep the shovel close to your body so you do not have to lean too far forward.
Although it would be nice to have a little bit of snow this holiday season, I am hoping we don’t have to pull out the shovels too often. When we finally do, keep these tips in mind to stay safe.