4 tips for shoveling without injury!
Brace yourself, winter is coming. And in Quebec, this means that the snow and the shovel are not far behind. Shoveling is a very intense activity considering that it implies moving heavy loads, repetitively. Luckily, many tips can help you avoid risk of injury.
1/ Warm up
Always do a warm up of 5 minutes before starting the activity. To do so, to do so, there is a lot of possibilities:
- walk up and down your house stairs
- take a small walk outside
- do squats
- simply execute lower back flexion and extension motions while sitting on a chair.
2/ Shoveling without hurrying
When shoveling, you need to take your time to avoid injuries:
- plan ahead and schedule enough time to complete without having to hurry.
- take the time for small breaks every 15 minutes or whenever you feel tired.
- you don’t always need to wait the end of the storm before starting: take advantage of the winter fresh air and go outside often to shovel smaller quantity of snow every time.
- keep in mind that since shoveling is a demanding activity most people sweat while doing it, which means that you will need to drink water!
3/ Using the best technic
- Avoid twisting your back: keep your shoulders, hips and foot in the same general direction when shoveling. By example, if you need to turn on the side to drop the snow, move your shoulders, your back and your foot at the same time and in the same direction. Doing so will help you avoid lumbar rotation, a motion that is damaging for your back.
- Bend your knees rather than your back: the muscles in your legs are the strongest in the human body and are much more powerful than the back muscles.
- When possible, push the snow rather than lifting it: Again, when lifting the snow, try to deposit it slowly as close to you that you can instead of throwing it at an arm reach.
4/ Using the best tools
To avoid bending your back, use an ergonomic shovel whose part of the handle is curved. You can easily find this kind of shovel in a shopping center. Furthermore, avoid using a shovel too heavy or too large: this will help limit the amount of snow you will scoop every time.
You are now ready to fight the winter and its numerous snowfalls. However, if you have pain that come and stay during the season or if you have any questions, feel free to contact the occupational therapist at our clinics.
Have fun shoveling!
By Josianne St-Jacques, occupational therapist at Physiothérapie Universelle Pointe-Claire.