Safe Shoveling: Avoiding injury this winter.

Well winter has officially made its way to southwestern Ontario. I hope everyone is staying warm and staying safe out there.  One of the most physically demanding tasks during the winter is shoveling the snow. It is something that we all have to do, but it also comes with great risk of injury. If you are using poor body mechanics, you put yourself at a risk of injuring your back or forearms. This blog is here to help reduce this rick of injury.  By keeping with proper body mechanics and shoveling technique, you can clear your driveway safely and efficiently.

1.      Use a sturdy, large shovel meant for lifting snow. A shovel with a small blade at the bottom will create too much tension when trying to lift snow from the ground. There are also some ergonomic shovels out there that claim to reduce amount of effort required when moving snow.

2.       Dress warmly. Having muscles that are cold will put you at risk of strain.

3.       Wear proper footwear. Have a good pair of winter boots with a decent amount of traction on them so that you do not lose your footing while moving the snow.

4.       Before you begin, have a plan of action. Shovel high priority areas first and leave others in case you feel like you need a rest.

5.       Avoid twisting motions while shoveling. You should scoop up the snow in the shovel, bring it up and then pivot/ step with your feet in the direction you need to put the snow.

6.       Lift with your legs.  When you have filled the shovel, bend down and push up through the legs to bring the snow up to a level so you can pivot / move it.

7.       Do not reach too far ahead of you to shovel. Bring your feet close to the area you are shoveling.  As if you are standing over a box to lift.

8.       Only load up the shovel with an amount of weight you can lift without strenuous effort. If the snow is built up, chisel at it. You are better off doing multiple “lifts” in the same area then straining your back trying to do it all at once.

9.       Do not hold your breath. Remember that breathing helps with efficiency and keeping your muscles working optimally.  You want to time the lifting of the snow to exhaling (breathing out).

10.   Listen to your body. If things start to hurt, or become too strenuous, take a rest.

Hopefully these tips help keep you safe and injury free this winter.

And remember live balanced, live well and be you at your PRIME 

Amanda Homen
Resident Physiotherapist