Shoveling snow is often unavoidable as we move deeper into the winter months. While it can be a great source of exercise (you can burn over 400 calories per hour!), shoveling snow can also be hazardous and downright painful if the proper precautions aren’t taken and the right mechanics utilized. At Core Wellness, we pride ourselves helping people live as pain-free as possible—and that includes supplying strategies for making simple, everyday tasks easier and safer. Consider these helpful tips as you are strapping on your snow boots and heading for the driveway during the next snowfall:
Use the right shovel
It’s wise to think “smaller = better.” Even though you may head for shovel with the bigger scoop so you can hold more snow at one time, you may actually be creating more work for yourself as the larger scoop is usually a) heavier and b) hold more snow ( = even heavier). A snow shovel should be no more than 3.5 lbs and the grip should be plastic or wood for a firm grasp. The shovel’s height should reach your elbows. Make sure your shovel isn’t bent or damaged in any way.
When it comes to snow shoveling, layering clothing is key. Wear several layers of lightweight clothing that’s warm and easy to maneuver in. Make sure your head, ears, feet and hands are covered and your boots water-resistant and providing good traction to avoid slipping. In particularly cold temperatures, you will need to cover your mouth, as well. Take a break and head indoors if you become overheated or feel yourself sweating too much.
Technique is essential
It’s always better to push the snow where you want it go rather than lifting, or worse, throwing. It’s better to walk the shovel over to the new location father than flinging the snow. If you must lift the snow, bend at the hips—not the low back—then bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, always maintaining a straight back. Pivot your entire body; don’t twist at the waist or throw the snow over your shoulder. Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body at your center of gravity – do not extend your arms to throw the snow. And remember, start with the top of the snow pile – skim a few inches off the top rather than shoveling the entire pile at one time.
Remember to rest
Take breaks often and drink something warm and non-alcoholic. Rest for at least five minutes every 15 minutes or so of shoveling (and more often if shoveling in harsh conditions, perhaps 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off). During breaks, stretch your arms, shoulders, and back to keep them warm and loose.
Happy shoveling…and remember, spring is just a few short months away!