If you’re a homeowner, you are probably no stranger to the arduous and backbreaking task of clearing snow from your drive and pathways. Next time you reach for the shovel though, it’s important to remember that shoveling snow is strenuous exercise, and it’s sensible to take precautions to make the job as safe as possible.
Here are some tips that will help to make shoveling easier and keep you safe this winter:
1. If you live a sedentary lifestyle or suffer from any health problems, you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, and shoveling snow is no exception.
2. Do some stretching and warm up exercises first. Sudden stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments can result in sprains or misalignment.
3. Take frequent breaks, particularly if the snowfall was heavy and the exertion is greater than you are used to.
4. Dress appropriately. Layers will help to keep you warm and are easier to shed as you start to feel hot.
5. Wear shoes that will provide traction or hold on the snow and ice, to prevent you from slipping.
6. Try to avoid shoveling immediately after consuming caffeine or nicotine as they limit the flow of oxygen through the body.
7. Do not shovel immediately after eating.
8. If at any time you feel chest pains or have trouble breathing, stop shoveling immediately.
9. Shovel only when the snowfall has stopped.
10. Use a good quality shovel that is ergonomically designed to reduce physical stress. A shovel with a long handle will help to save you from having to bend unnecessarily.
11. Use a small shovel to limit the weight being lifted. If the shovel you are using is large, don’t fill it completely.
12. Keep the shovel close to your body as you lift.
13. Bend your knees and legs when lifting the shovel, rather than taking the strain in your back.
14. Deposit the snow as close as possible to your sidewalk or driveway to help minimize the effort required.
15. Twist your whole body, not just your waist, when dumping snow.
16. In order to avoid twisting your knees, move your feet as you turn to dump the snow.
17. Break ice that has formed under the snow into pieces before shoveling it away.
18. Shovel high traffic areas first so that ice doesn’t accumulate on them.
19. Sprinkle sand over areas that have already been cleared to avoid further icing.
20. Do some stretching after you’re finished. A warm shower can help to ease tired muscles.
Finally, given that snow removal is inevitable, just take some time to enjoy being outside! The endorphins produced during the exercise will give you a feeling of well-being and if you follow the above tips you can feel good about the great workout you’ll be getting.
On the other hand, if shoveling is a task you would rather avoid altogether, talk to your local snow removal service provider; and consider the peace of mind that comes with knowing your drive and pathways will be kept clear and safe for you all winter.