Shoveling snow during winter is unavoidable, especially in Upstate New York, and can sometimes be a risk factor leading to hospital visits. However, you can perform this chore without hurting yourself.
Tips to Prevent Shoveling-Related Injuries
▶ Warm up before you head outside.
In the winter, your muscles are forced to do more work because cold weather constricts veins and arteries that supply blood and oxygen, and there is an additional strain on your heart to pump more blood to meet the demand from your muscles. Do some quick warm-up exercises before heading out to shovel snow to get your circulatory system working faster and prepared for the winter chill.
▶ Don’t lift too much snow at one time.
A full load of snow on your shovel is heavy. If you continually pick up large amounts of snow, you’re likely to strain your muscles. Only lift small portions of snow, ensuring the weight is less than your carrying capacity, to avoid exhaustion or strain.
▶ Use your knees.
One common mistake people make is lifting snow without the support of their knees. Bend your knees while lifting snow to avoid putting too much pressure on your lower back and prevent injury. If possible, push the snow, rather than lift it, off your walkways with a shovel.
▶ Bundle up to prevent hypothermia.
Prevent your body temperature from falling dangerously low by wearing proper clothing, including insulated coats, waterproof gloves, and warm boots with a lot of traction. Take regular breaks to go inside, warm up, and complete a quick exercise to move your muscles.
▶ Invest in an ergonomic shovel.
Prevent back strain and other injuries by investing in your snow removing equipment. While snowblowers are ideal, they can be expensive. As a back-friendly alternative, invest in an ergonomic shovel, such as this one at Target.
Handling an Injury
Never ignore pains. If you notice anything abnormal while shoveling snow, stop immediately and get back indoors. If you experience ongoing to persistent pain, schedule an appointment with our ACPT staff so that we can evaluate your situation, increase the rate at which you heal, and provide additional tools to prevent injuries in the future.