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Tips to keep in mind when shoveling snow

Waking up the other day and I was surprised to see snow! While it brightened the surroundings and looked great on the trees, it also meant clearing the snow would soon be upon us. I don’t mind snow as long as there isn’t too much, especially since the great run of weather we had in November. I can’t recall in my lifetime seeing multiple 20+ Celsius days in November. But with those great memories aside, winter is coming, and with it snow shoveling and clearing iced walkways and driveways.

Clearing snow and ice is one of the more common causes of back and shoulder injuries during the winter. Most of these injuries are preventable with proper techniques and common sense. It would also be wise to pick the right Shovel. Choose an ergonomic shovel, which will make cleaning the snow less of an effort. Choose a shovel with a curved handle or adjustable handle length, as it helps you to bend your knees slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground. Also, choosing a shovel that is smaller and lightweight helps to reduce the weight you need to move. Here are some more tips to use when shoveling snow.

Try stretching and warming up before shoveling snow, as cold tight muscles are more prone to injury. Get your blood moving by doing some stretches which include your low back and hamstrings. After that, go for a small but brisk walk to get your blood flowing.

Don’t shovel too much snow at once, as it is easy to forget that snow gets very heavy when wet. And since most of us want to finish up quickly, we end up lifting too much to finish the job quicker. It is best to pace yourself and take your time when shoveling.

Don’t lift with your back. Most of us lift snow, rotate and then throw snow aside. Instead of lifting, try pushing the snow by creating paths in your driveway so that you can push the snow to either side of the driveway. In some cases you will need to lift the snow to move it aside. When lifting snow, be wary that when wet it can be very heavy. Bend with your knees and lift with your legs. Don’t lift with your back as this is where the majority of back injuries occur. Be sure to shovel manageable amounts, and don’t let snow pile up.

Work in stages and take breaks. Shoveling snow will be a lot easier if you start shoveling in the middle of your driveway or walkway. By doing so it minimizes the work needed to push it aside. In times of heavy snowfall, it would also be wise to take breaks every few minutes. Better to take your time by pacing yourself and by doing so helping to avoid injuries.

Keep Hydrated and Dress in Layers. Shoveling snow can be a vigorous activity just like working out, so keep hydrated while shoveling. Wear hats and gloves and dress in layers. The base layer allows your skin to breathe, the mid layer keeps the warmth, and the outer layer protects from the wind and cold.

If Possible Use a Snow Blower Instead. Just remember that snow blowers can be heavy so proper use and techniques will help put less strain on your lower back than shoveling.

Hopefully the above tips are helpful for the majority of us. The most common injuries from shoveling snow are back pain or strain as well as shoulder and elbow injuries. Lastly, if an injury does occur, you can book an appointment with Dynamic Physiotherapy to recover quickly and comfortably. Treating an acute injury takes much less time than if an injury is allowed to remain untreated. Should you need any help or assistance, contact our team at Dynamic Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic Inc.


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