December is here and we are all dealing with the inevitable…snow! With an average of approximately 45 inches in snowfall a year in the GTA, many people, especially in suburban areas spend many mornings, AND evenings shoveling snow.
Muscle fatigue, back strain, shoulder stiffness, even vertebral disc damage are just some of the issues people face through the Winter season. Many people are shoveling with poor biomechanics, which can lead to serious injury.
Here are some tips for a healthy season of snow shoveling:
- Warm up a bit before you begin. Get your muscles geared up for the work ahead.
- Dress appropriately: check the temperature and layer up! Wear a hat and gloves to keep extremities warm.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and after shoveling.
- If you experience any pain, stop immediately.
- Pace yourself, too much too soon can lead to muscle strain and injury.
- Take frequent breaks if necessary.
- If the area is icy under foot, spread sand or salt to help add traction.
- Try pushing the snow instead of lifting it, and never lift snow over your shoulder. If you must lift, bend the knees and lift with the legs, not your waist and keep your back straight. Lift small amounts of snow to avoid unnecessary strain.
- Maintain balance and good posture to avoid strain: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, try to keep the shovel close to your body. Bend at the knees—not the waist or back. Tighten your stomach muscles as you push the snow. Do not twist your body. Dump the snow in front of you. If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet—do not twist!
- Shoveling can be stressful to the heart. If you have high blood pressure, are a smoker, lead a sedentary lifestyle or have had previous heart conditions, talk to your doctor if you are unsure about starting to shovel. Hire a student or ask a neighbor for help.
Our team of Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Massage Therapists are here to help if you have any snow shoveling related aches and pains. Contact us today to reset and rebalance for the Winter season.