Winter in New England, what an exciting time of year! From skiing to sleigh rides to the holiday season, we love the energy in the air. But with all of this excitement, there also comes snow…and lots of it! This is the time of year when we need to start preparing for the demands of snow removal. In order to decrease your risk of injury, shoveling with proper procedures and techniques is recommended. ProEx would like to provide you with information to help you avoid the typical snow shoveling injuries; sprains, strains, contusions and herniations—so you can experience the Joys of the season.
A Winter Workout - Ready, Set, Stretch
As a general guideline, prior to the start of the snow removal activities, begin by warming your body up a bit. If you have time, take a brisk 5-10 minute walk. You could also do 20 full body squats in a row. This should be a means to prepare your large muscle groups for the vigorous activity you are about to begin.
Baby it’s Cold Outside - Select an Appropriate Outfit
Dress in breathable layers of clothing to maintain warmth. As you begin to heat up from the activity remove layers as necessary to avoid overheating to stay comfortable. Be sure to select slip-resistant shoes/boots to keep you surefooted on snow filled and icy surfaces. Top it off with a hat and gloves to retain body heat to avoid frostbite and heat loss.
Give Yourself a Gift - Select a Proper Shovel
Determine your snow removal needs prior to purchasing or renting equipment. Shovels are designed with the purpose of pushing or carrying snow. Ultimately, the snow shovel should be comfortable for the user and help you accomplish your task. Shovels are available in both aluminum and plastic forms, and both work well. But, the use of a curved handle shovel is ergonomically appropriate to assist in taking some stress off of the spine, thus reducing strain on your back muscles.
6 Steps to Lessen Winter Injury Blues - Step by Step Snow Shovel Techniques
1. Grip the shovel with hands apart to provide for better leverage. 2. Shovel using your legs, and bend at your knees with your back straight. 3. Try your best to maintain a straight spine, without bending at your back. 4. Avoid uneven stresses on your muscles and joints by shoveling equally to both the right and left side. 5. Shovel standing in a split stance, with one foot slightly in front of the other, and refrain from twisting or bending at the waist. 6. Maintain your toe direction by pointing them in the direction you are shoveling.
Snow & Tell - Which is better Pushing vs. Lifting?
Snow can be moved to a desired location by either pushing or carrying the snow. Pushing the snow causes less risk of injury. If you must carry the snow, it is recommended that you use proper form. Scoop small amounts of snow at a time, and lift with your legs, carrying the snow with your arms close to the body. If the snow has accumulated, shovel gradually at inch intervals. Do not throw snow to your sides or over your shoulder as this tends to be the most stressful on your body. Most importantly, maintain good posture throughout your snow shoveling activities.
Frozen in Time - Remember to Take Adequate Breaks
Shoveling can take a significant amount of time, and frequent breaks are required to rest, rehydrate, and recover. During snow shoveling activities, drink water and try to avoid caffeinated beverages. It is always best to start shoveling snow shortly after snowfall begins, and frequently thereafter. Do a little bit at a time, and remember, as the snow continues to accumulate it becomes packed down and heavier making it more strenuous to remove.
We hope that these tips on shoveling were helpful. Please feel free to email them to a friend or family member. But most of all, ProEx would like to wish you and your family a happy and injury free snow shoveling season!