Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shoveling Snow.
1. Warm up – Before you bundle up to go outside to shovel snow, start with a 5-10 minute warm up that increases your heart rate in order to get your muscles ready to shovel.
a. Walk around the house, move up/down the stairs, standing marches, sit to stand or squats, arm swings.
2. Dress accordingly – Make sure that you are wearing clothing that keeps you warm but doesn’t restrict movement or obstruct your vision.
3. Shoes – You will want to wear shoes that have some tread on them to reduce risk of injury from slipping and falling.
4. Choosing your shovel – When shoveling, you want to make sure that the shaft is not too short, which could cause over flexing. As well as too long, which would increase the weight of the load.
5. Use safe lifting techniques – Whenever possible, push the snow rather than lifting it. If you need to lift the snow, use proper mechanics.
a. Face toward the object, you want to lift with shoulders, hips and feet squarely facing the pile.
b. Bend at the hips, not the back, keeping your chest forward. Then bend at the knees in order to lift the snow with your legs, keeping your back straight.
c. Keep the loads that you lift light.
d. When lifting, try to keep one hand lower on the shaft toward the blade of the shovel, with the other close to the handle, while maintaining a straight back.
e. Avoid excessive twisting when moving snow to new location, pivot your feet to the direction you want to drop the pile of snow.
f. Walk to the new location to deposit the snow, rather than twisting to throw it.
6. Pace Yourself
a. Less strain can be put on the arms, legs, and back by removing smaller loads of snow at a time.
b. Take rest breaks every 10 -15 minutes for a minute or two or if you feel overworked at any point.
7. Stay hydrated – Even though it’s cold, still remember to replenish with water after this strenuous activity.
Contact your physical therapist at OMPT Specialists if you have any questions related to proper snow shoveling techniques or have any pain! Or call for a FREE Consultation!
By Hannah Ford, DPT, OMPT