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Snow Shoveling Safety: Six Tips for Preventing Injury

Winter is just beginning, so we thought it was the perfect time to review some good snow shoveling tips and techniques.

1. Get a Good Shovel

They make ergonomic snow shovels that have curved handles or spring assistance which make the lever more efficient. You also want to make sure it’s lightweight. The snow can get heavy and you don’t want to add just extra pounds with your blade! Here are some good examples on Amazon:

2. Make Sure You Warm Up Properly

Shoveling snow is exercise. You need to make sure your muscle and joints are ready for the exercise. Do 5-10 minutes of cardio and some stretching before you go out. Walk up and down your stairs briskly to get your blood pumping. Walk briskly around your house or do a few laps up and down the driveway just walking first.  Then do a few dynamic stretches and don’t forget to warm up and stretch your arms. Arm circles are a great way to get those arms ready!

3. Watch those body mechanics!

Body mechanics are way you are using your body in the proper alignment or posture. It’s the “form” you use during shoveling. For shoveling, the important thing to remember is to bend your knees and tighten your belly. Push the snow to the side to avoid lifting if able. If you do have to lift, try to face what you are lifting, don’t lift just to the side. Bend your hips and not your spine and then bend your knees. You may find a lunge position easier. Don’t get too much snow in one lift. Keep the loads light and just do more loads. Hold the shovel with one hand in the middle or back of the handle and the other hand close to the blade. Keep the shovel close to your body and walk to wear you want to put the snow. Don’t twist. Face the area you want to dump the snow, and then gently put it down. Don’t throw the snow.

4. Pace Yourself

If you are able, take your time and shovel the snow in several episodes. If it’s a really deep snow, it’s best to remove the top layer first and then start in on the lower layers. Or if a large snow if predicted, get out there and shovel a few different times during the snow, so you aren’t doing everything at once.

5. Wear Good Shoes

A slip and fall can be devastating on your body. Wear shoes or boots with good treads. You can also put down salt, sand, or kitty litter to gain some traction while you work.

6. Best advice of all…. Borrow your neighbors snow blower!

Snow blowers are still very heavy, but most are self-propelled and just need a little push and guidance. Still remember to wear good shoes, use good posture, and tighten your lower abdominals to support your low back.

Hurt yourself shoveling? We can help.

We hope these tips are helpful through this cold winter season. If you do injure yourself shoveling, be sure to talk to your physical therapist about treatment options and tips for preventing re-injury with the next storm!

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