Snow can be a pretty sight in the winter, but it can also mean a lot of hard work outside shoveling. Each year there are approximately 100 deaths and 11,500 injuries just from shoveling! This statistic clearly shows it is important to prepare yourself to shovel snow this year. Here are a few tips you can apply to reduce chances of injury.
- Warm Up Before You Shovel
Just like any physical activity, it is always a good idea to warm up the body before. Warming up can mean taking 5 to 10 minutes to get the joints moving, muscle pumping, and blood flowing. You can start with slow spinal mobility movements such as Open Books, and Cat/Cow. Perform each movement two times for 20 repetitions. Afterwards, move on to some muscle activation and muscle engagement exercises such as transverse abdominus contractions, planks, good mornings, body weight squats. This will help get your heart rate up to get your muscles warmed up for activity. Perform two sets of 15 repetition of each exercise.
- Timing matters
The best time to shovel is after the snow has finished falling. If you shovel before the snow has all fallen, you will need to go out again and shovel the rest of the snow. If there is a lot of snow on the ground, shovel off the top half first and then move the bottom layer. Don’t try to get it all on your shovel at once. Also, take your time and take frequent rest breaks even if you feel like you don’t need it. The cold might make you feel less fatigued but your body will need the rest.
- Use Proper Body Mechanics
Most people bend over their shovel from the low back and then twist their body to lift the snow and throw it behind them, repetitively. This repetitive bending, lifting, and twisting motion with weight is what will cause back issues. Try this instead, bend your knees slightly, keep your back straight and your stomach muscles engaged, hinge forward from the hips, and hold the shovel close to you. Also, lift the snow with your legs keeping the shovel and snow close to your body. Avoid carrying the snow and twisting your spine!
- Set up your environment
Keep the snow you will shovel close to you. Hold the shovel with one hand at the handle and the other hand closer down the end of the shovel. Keep your stance a little wider than hip width, this will give you better leverage to lift the snow with the legs and prevent using your back.