• Watch Your Back While Shoveling Snow

     

    This snowy winter weather makes me want to do nothing more than crawl under the covers with a nice, hot cup of tea, a cat on my feet, and series of good books, and remain in that position until the snow melts to reveal spring.

    Unfortunately, this will remain a fantasy as long as I need to do things like work, eat, stretch, and the like.

    In order to maintain any semblance of a normal life in this snow-covered universe, clearing snow off of walkways, driveways, and car tops is essential. However, it’s all too easy to injure yourself while shoveling snow.

    As with moving boxes and lifting heavy objects, you wind up bending and straightening your body frequently while shoveling snow. Shoveling snow also requires you to lift, move, and drop a heavy burden. Learning how to do these tasks properly can save your back, knees, shoulders, and hips from future pain.

    So, without further ado, here are 5 tips on how to safely and effectively shovel snow this winter!

    1. This snowy winter weather makes me want to do nothing more than crawl under the covers with a nice, hot cup of tea, a cat on my feet, and series of good books, and remain in that position until the snow melts to reveal spring.

    Unfortunately, this will remain a fantasy as long as I need to do things like work, eat, stretch, and the like.

    In order to maintain any semblance of a normal life in this snow-covered universe, clearing snow off of walkways, driveways, and car tops is essential. However, it’s all too easy to injure yourself while shoveling snow.

    As with moving boxes and lifting heavy objects, you wind up bending and straightening your body frequently while shoveling snow. Shoveling snow also requires you to lift, move, and drop a heavy burden. Learning how to do these tasks properly can save your back, knees, shoulders, and hips from future pain.

    So, without further ado, here are 5 tips on how to safely and effectively shovel snow this winter!

     

    1. Warm Up Beforehand

    Think of shoveling snow as a specialized snow sport where it’s you versus the snow. Like any sport or competition, it’s important to prepare your muscles before hitting the field.

    Do a few stretches and quick exercises before going outside to get your blood flowing. It may be good to stretch your hamstrings, as shoveling involves repeatedly bending and straightening your knees. Loosen up your upper body, especially your shoulders, as you will be lifting heavy piles of snow. Do a few jumping jacks or quick running in place, as well, to warm up your body before braving the cold outside.

     

    2. Stay Grounded

    As we all know, snow and ice can be incredibly slippery! Thus, it’s incredibly important to wear proper shoes when going outside to shovel snow. Make sure the shoes you’re wearing have good treads and can handle ice.

    Falling is actually one of the most common ways that people injure themselves while shoveling. Aside from wearing good shoes, sprinkling rock salt, cat litter, or gravel on the ground where you will be standing can help reduce slipperiness and prevent falls.

     

    3. Use The Right Shovel

    As a single shovelful of snow can weight up to 20 pounds, an ergonomically designed shovel can make all the difference when shoveling snow. Good shovels are generally lighter and have handles contoured to your hand. They also reduce the need to bend as far or lift as high when shoveling snow.

    When choosing a snow shovel, make sure that your shovel is neither too long nor too short for your body – a short shovel will cause you to over-bend, and a long shovel will cause you to over-lift.

     

    4. Take Your Time

    No one ever said you need to do all of your shoveling at once!

    The best time to start shoveling is early. If you start shoveling after the first few inches of snow, it’ll make your life that much easier later, when there is a great accumulation.

    Removing snow early and frequently will help you avoid densely packed piles of snow, which are heaviest and cause most lifting-related injuries.

    It can be easy to overwork yourself while shoveling because the cold weather keeps you from noticing that your body is heating up. To prevent overheating, wear lots of layers so you can regulate body temperature as needed. Make sure you stay hydrated, as well! Take breaks frequently and drink lots of water before, during, and after your shoveling excursion.

     

    5. Lift Like A Champion

    Champions become champions by applying technique, staying focused, and not rushing! So when you’re lifting up heavy piles of snow, think like a champion.

    When shoveling snow, the champion move is to move as little as possible. Try to push the snow, rather than lift it. If you must lift, bend with your knees, grab a small shovelful of snow (it’s best to avoid overloading your shovel), and hoist with your legs – not your back! Then, as slowly and minutely as possible, bring your small load of snow to the dump pile. Having a predetermined dump pile is always a good practice – why shovel the same snow more than once?

    If you must actually lift a pile of snow – rather than push it around – walk your shovelful of snow over to your dump pile. Flinging the snow or twisting around to deposit it can strain back or result in pulled muscles. Over-twisting or flinging is also a great way to fall in the snow.

    Bonus tip – don’t shovel!

    Shoveling snow isn’t the only way to wipe your walkways or clear your car.

    If shoveling hurts your back, you always have the following options.

    Salt everything. This definitely won’t remove all of your snow, but it will make your job easier by improving melt times.
    Use a snow-blower. These machines are faster and more efficient than shoveling, though they’re also heavier than shovels and a bit more expensive. If you do choose this option, there are other health and safety considerations to take into account.
    Get someone else to do it. There is definitely a kid down the block who will accept $20 in exchange for shoveling duties; or, call a professional snow plow company. Either way, there WILL be someone willing to clear away your snow for you!

    Whether you’re shoveling your own snow, using a heavy duty snow blower, hiring someone else, or waiting out the cold with a cat on your feet, stay warm the rest of this winter!

    And above all, stay safe!