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9 Ways to Avoid Injury While Shoveling Snow

January 22, 2016

shovel snow

Don’t Get Hurt While Shoveling Snow

Many people are seriously injured while shoveling during or after a snow storm. Some of the injuries occur because people don’t realize how heavy snow is and how difficult a workout it can be. This can lead to heart attacks in people who are predisposed to heart issues. Back injuries due to improper shoveling are another common injury. In addition, people suffer fractures or head injuries when they fall on slippery roads, sidewalks and driveways.

Here are some ways to protect yourself while shoveling.

1. Wear the Right Boots and Clothes

non-slip boots

The correct boots will help protect you.

Make sure your boots are slip resistant and fit you properly. Dress warmly and in layers. Make sure you wear gloves that will protect your hands from the cold and prevent you from developing blisters or other injuries on your hands. Also wear a hat. Remove clothing as you heat up.

2. Use the Right Shovel

Ergonomic shovel

Ergonomic shovels are designed to reduce bending and help protect the back.

If you have an old shovel, it might be time for a new one. Pick a shovel which minimizes the amount of bending you have to do. There are different shovels for pushing and lifting. Plastic is lighter than metal. Smaller blades are better for lifting and larger blades are better for pushing. You might want to get two shovels.

3. Warm Up

Warm up before you start shoveling. Stretch your body, especially the parts which will be getting the most work: back, arms and legs.

4. Push the Snow

Most of your energy is used in picking up and throwing the snow. Push it as much as possible instead of throwing it.

5. Don’t Try to Lift a lot at Once

It is tempting to move a lot of snow at a time in order to get done quickly. This can be dangerous, especially with heavy, wet snow (as opposed to the dry, powdery stuff.) Focus on lifting a small amount at a time.

6. Lift with your Legs

Lifting properly

Lift with your legs, not with your back.

Don’t lift the snow with your back, bend your knees and lift with your legs. This is how to lift anything, not just snow.

7. Throw the Snow Properly

Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or throw it to the side.  Throw it in front of you. Twisting and turning is not good for the back.

8. Rest and Stay Hydrated

Take frequent breaks. Walk around, and perform exercises that will help reverse the impact of the heavy work on your body. A backward bend for your back, for example. Drink a lot of water. Avoid caffeinated drinks or alcohol.

9. Don’t Do it Yourself

Snow blowers instead of shovels

Ask your neighbors for help, especially those who might have a snow blower.

Some people simply shouldn’t be shoveling snow. If you are in poor shape, suffering from an injury or have other serious risk factors, you might be better off not shoveling. If you cannot hire someone to do it for you, perhaps you can ask a neighbor with a snow blower to help you out.

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