With the first lasting snowfall upon us and more winter weather around the corner, many people will be forced to do some heavy lifting while shovelling their driveways. Every year, many people are injured by this highly physical task. A US study indicated that 11,500 people end up in the hospital every year from snow shovelling related injuries. To avoid becoming another statistic, here are some tips on how to stay safe while shovelling snow.
- Warm-up – Warming up before any activity is always a good idea. When the muscles are physically warm, they are more stretchy and less likely to tear. This is why it is especially important to warm up when doing a task outside, as the cold temperatures could increase your chances of injury. The warm up doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be as simple as doing 10 minutes of jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, or going up and down the stairs.
- Use proper technique – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and push the snow away from you while keeping your shovel close to your body. Think about using your legs for power rather than relying on your back.
- Use an ergonomic shovel – Shovels that have adjustable handles will allow you to customize your shovel to reduce bending and lifting. Additionally, ergonomic shovels tend to be lighter in weight which will decrease the stress on your muscles.
- Take smaller scoops – Snow can be heavy, especially when wet. Combine that with awkward positions that snow shovelling requires you to be in and it can quickly become a recipe for disaster. Taking less snow with each scoop may increase the time it takes to shovel, but will save you time compared to rehabing an injury!
- Take breaks -Injuries are more likely to occur when you are tired. People are less likely to use proper technique once their key muscles become fatigued, which leads to injuries. Once you start to slow down, take a breather for a couple of minutes before you get back to work.