Back Care Tips for Winter Shoveling

Snow Shoveling

10 Tips for safe and healthy winter shoveling

  1. Warm up!  Move your body, shake out your limbs, and do some gently stretching before you start shoveling.
  2. Don’t let the snow pile up – The average shovel full of snow weighs about 5 to 7 lbs, so to clear your sidewalk and your driveway will be quite a few lbs!  Do it frequently to keep the workload on your body manageable.
  3. Pick the right shovel – Use a light-weight shovel.  The handle should be long enough that you don’t have to bend over too far to shovel, but should not be higher than your shoulders.  Use a pusher type shovel for larger areas.
  4. Push, Don’t throw – Push the snow to the side first.  This will help prevent the stress of lifting and twisting.
  5. Switch sides – Switch sides when shoveling so that you evenly distribute the work load on both sides of your body.
  6. Bend with your Knees – If you have to lift a shovel full of snow, bend with your knees.  Use your arm and leg muscles to lift.  Know your limit.
  7. Take a break! – If you feel tired, short of breath or light headed, take a rest; shake out your arms and legs and resume when you feel rested.  If you have chest pain stop immediately and see a medical doctor if it persists.  If you have back pain stop immediately and see your chiropractor if it persists.
  8. Stay active in between winter storms – Keep your body strong by exercising regularly.
  9. Keep hydrated – We still get dehydrated in the winter, so make sure you drink enough water.
  10. Don’t over heat – You can really work up a sweat when you shovel.  It is recommended that you wear layers of clothing so that you can take off layers when needed, but stay properly covered.  Even better, wear winter active outerwear that is thermal and highly breathable. (Available at most outdoor sports stores).

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