By Nuvance Health Physical Therapy
Bad backs, stiff necks, broken bones, heart problems and frostbite are common snow-shoveling health hazards. Whether you are digging out after a big storm or clearing a pathway for safe passage, there are precautions you can take to prevent becoming a snow-shoveling injury statistic.
Snow shoveling basics to get you started: avoid overworking your muscles, warm up with some light exercises, then shovel five to 10 minutes at a time and rest to catch your breath, and stretch your lower back and shoulders during rest periods. A steady, slow pace is best.
Take a look at these additional snow shoveling tips:
Dress in layers to wick perspiration away from your body while keeping you warm.
Don’t overdo it
Take a half scoop of wet snow instead of a full shovel load, which can weigh as much as 25 pounds, according to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Invest in snow gear
The basic snow shovel was invented more than 100 years ago. Look for an ergonomic design with a longer and adjustable handle, curved shaft, good handgrip and lightweight material. These types of shovels lower risk for some injuries.
Don’t throw snow
Don’t throw snow – plow. Use the shovel to push the snow out of the way. Your “plow” should be powered by your legs. If you have to lift the shovel, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Walk to where you want to place the snow. Don’t throw the snow, which puts stress on your spine.
Before starting to shovel, eat a healthy snack and drink water or a low-sugar sports drink. Keep drinking fluids to stay hydrated while shoveling.
Twist and shout
Protect your muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues by staying square with the shovel and facing the direction in which you are shoveling. You should never twist your body, which leads to strains and sprains.
Don’t slip on the ice because your footwear has poor tread. Nonslip shoes or boots with traction are musts.
Know your limits
While deaths due to shoveling are uncommon, heart attacks do happen, especially with adults 55 and older who are not physically active. Get your primary care doctor’s consent before taking on winter’s wrath.
By following these guidelines, snow removal should be safer for you this winter. Stay safe!
This post was brought to you by Nuvance Health.