Winter months bring snowfall and while it is beautiful to look at, snow means shoveling! Because of all the repetitive movements of bending and lifting that are required, snow removal can cause orthopaedic injuries, most commonly back and shoulder sprains. Making sure we are safe and have proper body mechanics while we do this chore is important!
- Check with your Doctor
- Clearing snow places a lot of stress on the heart. If you are someone who is sedentary or has pre-existing medical conditions, it is always best to check with you Dr before shoveling snow and consider hiring someone
- Don’t wait for the snow to pile up
- Clean snow early and often to avoid having to clear heavy packed snow
- Before starting, walk around the block or warm up your muscles with light exercises for 10 minutes
- Use the right technique
- Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and not too heavy.
- Space your hands to increase your leverage
- Push the snow away from you instead of lifting it (do not throw snow over your shoulder!)
- If you need to pick up snow make sure to do small amounts at a time and squat; bend your knees, keep your back straight bend at the waist and lift with the legs
- Take breaks and drink water
- Be aware of signs & symptoms of cardiac distress
- If you experience any shortness of breath, chest/upper body discomfort, palpitations, anxiety, sudden fatigue, nausea, lightheaded or dizziness, stop shoveling immediately and seek medical attention
Ortho Info (2019). Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snowblowing Injuries. Retrieved on January 26, 2020 form https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/prevent-snow-shoveling-and-snowblowing-injuries/
Veitch Physiotherapy and Wellness Center (2020). Snow Shoveling. Retrieved on January 26, 2020, from https://veitchphysio.com/health-tips/snow-shoveling/.