Safe snow shovelling: Tips you should know

Posted on December 22, 2017 by kerri
Recently, we discussed the connection between heart attacks and winter, and a big culprit seems to be snow shovelling. The winter, with its slippery sidewalks and snowy terrain, can also be a cause of some injuries and falls, both minor and major. Here are some tips you should be aware of to stay safe and pain-free when tackling that snow.
Injures from snow shovelling: They might surprise you!
The first major cause of injury from shovelling is injuries affecting the lower back [1], the main group of muscles used to lift up heavy snow—using a smaller shovel can help you keep that load lighter and your form better! [2] You might have guessed that one, but the second greatest cause of injuries while shovelling snow? Being hit by another person’s snow shovel! [1] Keep your head up when you, and those around you, are shovelling, to avoid any surprises.
Fix your form: Shovel snow right.
In addition to working at a slower pace to not tire yourself out and using a smaller shovel [2], these steps can help minimize injuries caused by shovelling snow:
  • Start early—don’t wait for all the snow to pile up, if it’s set to snow al day, do a few quick clean-ups rather than one big one. [3]
  • Warm up! And not just by sitting indoors. Snow shovelling is hard exercise, so just like any activity, warm up by walking briskly, doing squats, and maybe some stretches after you’ve warmed up for about ten minutes. [3]
  • Work in small chunks: shovel for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to keep your energy up and your form good. [2]
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting snow. [3] When moving snow to a different place turn your body—that means move your feet!—to discard shovelled snow, don’t just twist your back. [2]
  • Use a snowblower if you have one to be the work horse for you. [2]
  • If you didn’t follow the third tip, take breaks regularly to warm up again indoors. Cold muscles do not work as well as warm ones do, and are more prone to injury!
Remember, those breaks are a good time to re-fuel with a healthy snack and rehydrate as well. A hot drink may seem nice, but try to avoid caffeine when you’re rehydrating!
Take care when shovelling!
Rain or snow, sun or clouds, keep your medical ID jewelry on if you have a medical condition. In cold weather, our medical sport bands may be a good choice so that the steel tag is not directly in contact with your skin (or that snow that inevitably gets into your sleeves!)

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