It’s wintertime. And we all know what that means—shovelling.
Shovelling is an inevitable reality that we must endure in wintertime. It’s hard work, and it puts heavy stress on your body. You’ll be at risk for all kinds of injuries, from slips and falls to sprains and strains. So it’s important to take safety precautions.
Here are our 7 tips for preventing injuries from shovelling.
1. Warm up.
Start slowly for the first 10-15 minutes. Brush down your cars or shoveling the stairs is a good way to get started.
2. Use the right shovel.
You might be tempted to use a bigger shovel so you can maximize your shoveling capacity. But bigger is not better. The bigger the shovel, the harder to push and the harder you will lift. Find a shovel, a scraper or a scoop you can handle using for half an hour without straining or overexerting.
3. Get a grip.
If it’s icy out, consider staying in. If that’s not an option, as so often is the case, wear snow cleats that fit over your regular boots. These will grip the ice and prevent falls. You can find these at local stores like Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and Walmart and they will range in price from $30 to $80.
4. Prioritize pushing.
If you can, push the snow instead of lifting it. Lifting can add a great deal of strain to your back. If you absolutely have to lift, face forwards and don’t rotate your trunk. You want to pivot your whole body to move the snow to its new location.
5. Plan ahead.
At the beginning of your “workout”, you should never tackle hard tasks like moving heavy snow left behind by the plow. Why? Because you’re not warmed up. You also don’t want to save this type of heavier task until the end either because you’ll be tired and more likely to injure yourself. So, plan ahead and do this heavy work mid-workout when you’re still feeling strong and are maintaining good shoveling form.
6. Break it up.
Take regular mini-breaks to give your muscles a chance to recuperate. I like to think of this as an opportunity to look around and appreciate the beauty of winter!
7. Stay active.
If you’re a skier, a skater, a snowshoer or just enjoy tobogganing with your kids, get out there and enjoy winter! If you’d rather stay indoors, there are plenty of other options too. You can join sports activities—think tennis, pickleball, volleyball, etc—or stick to walking at the Benson Centre and Civic Complex, or even the mall.
A half hour of activities per day can help prevent injuries, ailments, and diseases. And it can help you stay fit so you can keep up with all the shoveling you’ll need to do!
As a final note, I’d like to thank the people who help relieve my shovelling duties: my generous neighbours with snow blowers, Yvon and Ron, who come to my rescue when needed, and also my 17-year-old son, Nathan, who shows great skill in this department.