by Lorraine Breau-Thompson, PT
It’s that time of year again! The snow comes and we get our shovels out. For most of us, shoveling is mainly a winter activity. Our body isn’t used to the repetitive bending, scooping and lifting. In order to help prevent injuries, there are a few tactics that can help.
1. Before you get started, warm up by going for a short walk and do light stretches.
2. Use a light-weight shovel with an ergonomic handle when available. If there isn’t a lot of snow, try to push it instead of lifting it.
3. Scoop small amounts of snow at a time so that the shovelful isn’t too heavy. Make sure to bend your knees and to lift with your legs to avoid straining your back.
4. Instead of twisting to throw the snow behind you, turn to face the direction you can most easily deposit the snow. Plan where you will place the snow so that you don’t have to move it twice.
5. Rest when you feel the need by taking micro breaks. Make sure to keep well hydrated and to stretch as needed. Listen to your body if your muscles are getting tired and pay attention to any signs of cardiac distress such as shortness of breath, chest pain, light-headedness.
6. Keep active all year long so that your muscles are strong and that you have good aerobic fitness. You can use shoveling as part of your exercise for the day. Dress appropriately and enjoy the fresh air!