Snow shoveling is an activity that sees many Americans visiting the emergency room every winter. From back injuries to exhaustion to heart attacks, this necessary activity can sometimes be dangerous. Snow shoveling injury prevention is important to learn before the snow season starts. Here are some simple tips to help you prevent injury.
Use the right tool for the job
The bigger the shovel you use the bigger the load it carries. Simply use a smaller bladed shovel to save your back from pain. Lifting with your legs and not your back is also important, but did you know that a longer and ergonomic shovel can give you more power to your lift? These new lightweight shovels can be found at any hardware store. Be sure to purchase yours before a big snow storm though as they will be unavailable or more expensive when the weather forecast starts uttering snow amounts. If you are breaking up ice, make sure to use a spike or a metal hoe as these tools use their own weight to break the ice rather than your back muscles.
Treat shoveling like a workout
Just like any workout, your cold muscles are more prone to injury. To prevent injury, make sure you warm up for at least tem minutes before starting to shovel. March in place, jumping jacks, or even a brisk walk can get you prepared. Limber up your shoulders and back with stretching the same way you would get ready to run or do a lifting workout.
Pushing is better than lifting
The best option for injury prevention is to push the snow rather than lifting. Pushing allows you use the power from your legs without using your back or shoulders. If you must lift the snow, remember these easy steps:
– Bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles while keeping your back straight.
– Keep the snow load light and never lift if the load feels too heavy for you.
– Keep the snow load close to your body at your center of gravity for more power.
– Do not throw the snow.
– Try to not swivel your waist, but move your entire body.
Slow and steady will keep you injury free. Shoveling small amounts of snow over time is less strenuous than large amounts at once. When snow is deep and difficult to manage, just shovel in layers taking inches at a time. Taking breaks is also a good idea. Take a 15 to 20 minute break every hour to reduce fatigue.
More dangerous than strain on your body is the area where you are shoveling. Slips and falls are common dangers while you shovel. Prepare the area you are shoveling before you start. Spread sand, rock salt, or kitty litter on your driveway, sidewalk, or the area you need to shovel. Preparing the area will reduce your likelihood of slipping on the ice.
Do you have a tip or trick when removing snow? Leave a post or tell us your story.