The Dos and Don’ts of Safe Shoveling – Advice to keep your back safe while shoveling this winter
Love it or hate it, snow shoveling might as well be one of the official sports of Canada. However, shoveling is no easy task. If done incorrectly, shoveling can easily lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Follow these simple dos and don’ts of shoveling this winter to save yourself from any unnecessary pain!
Do pick the right shovel for you.
We’re all different sizes, so why would we all use the same shovel? To find the right shovel for you, look for an ergonomic shovel with an adjustable handle. When adjusted properly, your shovel should touch the ground with only a slight bend in your knees and very minimal bending in your back.
Don’t bend or rotate your back.
When bending to shovel or pick up a load, bend at your knees and keep your back as straight as possible. This will help prevent unnecessary strain on your back and ease the task of shoveling. Our backs are also more likely to become injured when we’re rotated. Avoid this position by trying to always face the same direction as what you’re shoveling or where you’re putting it down.
Do warm up before heading outside.
Cold muscles and tissues are more likely to get hurt during activity. Before heading outside to shovel, do a quick warm up to get your blood flowing. This could include brisk walking, marching in place, and stretches.
Don’t push through the pain.
If you’re feeling pain while shoveling, it’s time to stop. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s not right and that it’s time to take a break. Avoid pain by keeping the loads light and following the advice above!
Do pace yourself.
Take a break every 10 to 15 minutes, or whenever you’re feeling tired or exhausted. Head inside to warm up, straighten your back, and walk around for a bit to keep your back happy and healthy.
Don’t toss the snow.
If you are having to lift snow out of the way or onto a snowbank, try to avoid tossing it. Instead, walk over to where you’d like to put the snow and drop it off. What may take a few more seconds for every load could very well save you a lot of misery in the future!
Do push the snow.
Whenever possible, try simply pushing the snow to the side of what you’re clearing rather than lifting and throwing. Pushing the snow is a lot easier on our backs and could save you a lot of pain!
Try to keep all this advice in mind the next time you head out to shovel and keep your back safe!
If ever you hurt yourself shoveling, or have any concerns about your technique or snow shovel, contact the Bellefleur Physiotherapy team at 613-424-7852 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these matters with a Physiotherapist.