Temperatures have started to drop and snow has covered almost every part of the country. And though the weather makes you want to snuggle up with your favourite blanket, you cannot avoid the fact that in time you will have to shovel off those piles and piles of snow from your driveway.
Shoveling snow is a unassuming task on the surface, but if you don’t know how to shovel snow safely, chances of stressing your heart or injuring your back are really high. In fact, back pain from shoveling snow affects thousands of people this time of the year with some even ending up in the hospital.
To help ensure you don’t end up with some type of back injury, follow these tips:
- Know your body’s threshold. All people, no matter how athletic, have their own body’s threshold. Considering the work you have to put into shoveling snow, listen to your body when it feels tired. Don’t wait until you’re on the verge of passing out.
- There’s a right shovel for you. If you have to pick a snow shovel, choose the one with curved handle. A curved handle helps you position your back properly during movement. A plastic one is way better to use than metal since it is lighter. If possible, choose a shovel that can carry minimal snow to prevent back pain.
- Use proper body mechanics when shoveling. Just as you would do when you’re carrying heavy objects, don’t use your back as your source of strength. Bend your knees when shoveling to avoid straining your back. The power must come from your knees and not from your back.
- Push off the snow instead of lifting it. The primary purpose of shoveling snow is to clear your driveway. If possible try pushing it off to clear it (instead of lifting).
- Warm up! Like any workout, your body should be prepared enough to handle this tough job. Make sure that you warm up your muscles beforehand. Cold muscles are more susceptible to sprain or strain.
- If possible, avoid vasoconstrictors. That means, avoid caffeine or nicotine before shoveling that snow. These substances can make your heart beat faster. When you shovel, you put extra stress on your heart. With these chemicals in your system, it’ll put even more stress on your heart.
If you’ve been feeling aches or pains in your back after shoveling snow or any other reason, perhaps it’s also time to book a no-obligation appointment to see one of our physiotherapists. Get a thorough analysis of your pain, a treatment roadmap (you can use at home too) and get back to a pain-free life!
Now go shovel that driveway!