As the winter wears on, communities across the northern part of the country are getting hammered with snowstorms and significant accumulation. People everywhere will be in their driveways and walkways shoveling out snow to clear the way. But shoveling snow – especially in heavy amounts – can prove to be quite dangerous.
Snow shoveling is one of the main causes of back injuries in the winter. Many even suffer spine damage from shoveling snow. No matter how snowy it gets, clearing a path is not worth throwing out your back, or worse. Be safe when shoveling by following these easy tips:
1. Proper shoes
Something you want to be sure of when out shoveling snow is that you keep your footing underneath you. Don’t head outside in sneakers or shoes and expect to stay on your feet. Wear boots with good tread to get steady traction on the ground when shoveling. The last thing you want to do is slip on some ice and get hurt just walking down the stairs. Spreading salt on the ground before starting to shovel will also help you gain better traction.
2. Use your legs
One of the best ways to avoid back injuries when shoveling is to use your whole body to support the weight of the snow by lifting with your legs. You want to make sure that your feet are spread about as wide as your hips, and bend your knees straight down when picking up the snow. Tighten your ab muscles when lifting the snow to take some of the strain off of your back. You are way more likely to suffer a back injury if you lift with just your arms and back then if you use your whole body to support the added weight.
3. Work smarter, not harder
Often you get into the zone while shoveling and mindlessly toss snow shoveled off of the stairs right onto the driveway, where you then have to shovel it again. Don’t make extra work for yourself. If you have to walk a few steps to get the snow out of the way, do so. There is no need to shovel the same snow twice. Think about where you are making your piles before you start shoveling.
4. The right tool
Picking the right shovel could have as much of an impact on your back as using proper technique. Ergonomic snow shovels have curved handles and possibly adjustable handle length to prevent you from arching your back too much. Consider changing shovels to a more back-friendly model if you are worried about injury.
5. Drink water
Even if the cold doesn’t make you feel overheated, it is important to hydrate when out shoveling snow. Hydration helps your body recover after an intense workout and will decrease soreness and pain you feel from shoveling.
Shoveling snow is hard work, and without the right technique and tricks it can be painful work as well. Don’t just go out and shovel without preparing first. You don’t need to let the next winter storm knock you on your back.