Learn to shovel snow the right way to save your back and get some exercise!
Here are 10 tips for wiser snow shoveling:
- Warm up first!Warm muscles are less prone to injury than cold muscles. Get your blood moving with a full body activity such as a brisk walk, climbing stairs or marching in place. Then you should stretch your lower back, hamstrings, arms and shoulders. Bring your knees to your chest for a gentle stretch for your back. Forward bends from a seated position will stretch your legs and tight hugs will stretch your arms and shoulders.
- Dress in loose-fitting layers and wear proper footwear with good treads.
- An ergonomic snow shovel can help reduce the chance of injury.A plastic shovel with a smaller scoop will ensure that you’re not lifting too much at once and that your load is lighter. A curved or adjustable handle will reduce the amount of bending you have to do.
- Hold the shovel handle with some distance between the hands.This gives you more leverage and makes it easier to lift snow.
- As much as possible, push rather than lift or throw.When you have to lift or throw, have your shoulders and hips facing the direction you’re throwing.
- Lift with your legs, not your back. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you’re lifting from your leg muscles, not your back.Never bend at the waist.Step in the direction that you are throwing the snow. This will help prevent the lower back from twisting and reduce any back soreness that you might typically experience the day after a big shoveling job.
- When you have to turn, turn your whole body to the new direction rather than twisting.
- Keep the heaviest part of the load close to your body.Avoid extending your arms to throw the snow. Simply walk to the location where you’re dropping the show, rather than reaching or tossing.
- Pace yourself.Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than a lot all at once. In deep snow, remove some off the top rather than trying to shovel the full depth all at once. It’s also a good idea to take a short break occasionally and use that time to stretch your arms, shoulders and back to keep them warm and flexible.
- And finally, if at all possible, find someone younger to do the shoveling for you!Get your kids off the couch or hire the neighbour’s kids. That’s sure to be better for your back!