Avoiding Injury: 7 Shovelling Tips

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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.


How to Avoid Weekend Warrior Injuries

By | Prevention | No Comments

So many people have schedules filled to the brim with full-time work, family duties, household responsibilities, and other commitments, so squeezing in regular recreational activities can be a real challenge. Many of us have become weekend warriors, managing to carve out some time to recreate on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, we tend to push our activities to the limit in hopes of making the best of them. The problem is the remaining five days a week we spend sitting at a desk or in a car commuting back and forth to work or our kids’ activities. Despite this imbalanced schedule,  we still expect our bodies to work in the same way they did when we were younger. Unfortunately, this type of schedule can increase our risk of injury.

There are a few things that you can do every day that can help to minimize your injury risk and help prepare your body and its tissues to better manage the occasional sport-related stress you place on it.

1. Warm up right.

When it comes to warming up our bodies before activity, it seems the older we get the lazier or more complacent we become. For example, we might get to the rink strap on the pads and jump into a game and expect our bodies to hold up. Or we decide to go for a run and start at race pace and wonder why our feet or knees hurt after the first kilometre.

There are many benefits to a proper warm-up that can help our body prepare to the needed workload.

These include:

  • Improving blood flow to working muscles, which allows them to be more pliable and accepting for stretch or loading.
  • Gradually increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, minimizing the chance of getting a rapid spike.
  • Improving oxygen and nutrient transport to the muscles and joints.
  • Improving neuromuscular efficiency and coordination.
  • Mentally preparing you for the upcoming task and increasing your focus.

A good warm-up should consist of a minimum of 10-15 minutes of dynamic movements involving the muscles you will be using for the upcoming activity.A good resource to use is the FIFA11+ warm-up routine, which has strong support for injury prevention behind its program. If you’re unsure about which movements should be included, speak with a healthcare practitioner, kinesiologist, or personal trainer—like our experts at Active Sport Physiotherapy Clinic—to help design something specifically for you. 

2. Maintain a regular stretching and mobility routine at home.

Stretching doesn’t have long, drawn-out process. It can be as simple as five to 10 minutes each morning to get your body prepared to move for the day. Target major muscle groups and movement patterns that you will be using during the day, as well as muscle groups that may get neglected given your work environment. For example, those of us who spend the majority of the day in a seated position should look to stretch the hip flexors and lumbar spine to keep them from shortening over time.

3. Cool down.

It’s important to cool your body down after you’ve engaged in an activity. This doesn’t mean cool off the body with a cold adult beverage after the game (though that does sound good, doesn’t it?). Take the time after a workout to gently stretch the major muscles you used during your workout or activity.

A cool down period helps to:

  • Prevent blood pooling in the extremities.
  • Promote clearance of lactic acid from the muscles.
  • Restore your regular heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

4. Stay on the move.

It’s important you take the time to get up and move throughout your day. Recommended guidelines suggest that you should stand up at least once per hour if working in a seated position. This can be as simple as getting up for a drink of water or going to the bathroom. But remember, the more you move, the better your body will feel. Having regular bouts of activity throughout your day will help keep your muscles from adapting a shortened position and improve circulation into your lower extremity.

So there you have it, weekend warrior. You may not have the chance to engage in high-energy activity throughout the week but by staying active and healthy, taking the proper precautions to keep your body prepared to handle the stresses you place on it on the weekend, you’ll minimize the risk of injury. If you have any questions about what you can do to prevent injuries, reach out to us by email here or give us a call at 613-936-0676. We’re happy to help!