Shovelling snow is not for the faint of heart. Every year, thousands of people are injured while shovelling the white stuff from their driveways and sidewalks. Back pain, sore muscles, and herniated disks are the most common injuries that snow shovellers experience. Broken bones can also occur from slipping on ice while shovelling and due to the strenuous nature of this physical activity, heart attacks can occur, especially in adults over 55.
But, if you live in Canada shovelling is just part of life! So how do you prevent getting injured while shovelling this winter? Here’s our list:
Before You Go Outside
1. Exercise regularly
Of course, just like any kind of exercise, it gets easier with time. Those who have strong core muscles are generally able to shovel for longer periods of time. Shovelling snow is another good reason to stay in shape year round.
2. Warm up
Shovelling is vigorous exercise and just like with any exercise you need to warm up. Do some stretches, get your heart rate up a bit with some jumping jacks. Just start moving around inside in preparation.
3. Drink water
Even though it’s cold out, you’re going to sweat while you shovel. Make sure you drink lots of water before heading outside to prevent dehydration. Also bring a bottle of water with you or leave it just inside the door so you can take water breaks.
4. Eat a snack
Eat a balanced, small snack before you start shovelling. This will prevent low blood sugar, and will keep your energy levels up. A piece of fruit, or some crackers with peanut butter are great options.
5. Dress warmly
Layers are your friend. Keeping your muscles warm despite the cold temperature is key here. Find the balance between warmth and overheating. Wear comfortable boots with tread on them to prevent sleeping too!
Shovelling Techniques to Avoid Injury
1. Use your legs, not your back!
Snow is heavy, especially wet snow. So where you can, push the snow rather than lifting it. In both cases, make sure you’re using your legs to push and lift the snow. This will save your back.
2. Don’t overload the shovel
If you do have to lift, do not overload the shovel, especially when the snow is wet. You won’t get the job done any faster because you’ll have to take more breaks. Take your time, do it properly, and save your back.
3. Divide area into smaller areas
Dividing your snow into sections and taking breaks between section will help you pace yourself throughout the job. Make sure you drink some water during your breaks!
4. Never lift and twist
Shovelling snow is not as glamorous as it looks in the movies. Pick up a small amount of snow with your shovel, walk over to where you’re dumping it, and place it in the pile. Do not throw it over your shoulder or twist your body in any way while shovelling.
1. Warm up & stretch
Warm up after you get inside and stretch your arms, legs, and back. This will help to prevent sore muscles.
2. Ice Injuries
Your muscles may tighten up up to 72 hours after shovelling, so try to lay low for this time and let your body rest. If you do end up with a sore back or any minor injuries, be sure to ice it regularly and don’t go back to shovelling until you’re feeling better. Wrap an icepack in a towel and put it on the injured area for about 20 minutes, every other hour for the first 72 hours after shovelling.
Of course, you could always avoid all of this and just hire Jiffy to remove your snow when you need us!
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