Mother nature has finally gotten around to winter in New England and the snow has began to fall. Many of us have dusted off our snow shovels and started up the snow plows this week to deal with our first significant dose of snow. With this comes the potential for injury to our necks, backs, shoulders and cardiovascular health as well.
Shoveling snow can wreak havoc on our bodies, so here are a few tips to prevent injury while shoveling snow.
The first piece of advice is to make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to shovel, especially before heading out the door in the morning. A huge mistake is that we rush out the door our muscles are cold and stiff and we pick up a shovel and start to clear large amounts of snow without being warmed up increasing the risk for sprains and strains.
Set aside a little extra time to stretch and warm up before heading outside, even hop on a treadmill or walk around the house a few times to get the blood flowing this is not only good for the musculature but also for your heart health as well.
Next, you need to make sure that you layer your clothing, this will help to keep your muscles warm and flexible as you shovel. For those of you that are not gym rats, shoveling can place significant strain on the de-conditioned muscles of the upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs so proper posture while shoveling is extremely important.
When you do shovel, make sure that you push the snow straight ahead. Walk the snow to a snow bank, or across the driveway and avoid sudden twisting or turning motions. Always bend your knees when lifting the snow, especially heavy wet snow! Allow your legs and arms to do the work, not your back. Remember that a body that is tired is asking for injury so listen to your body and shovel in 15 minute increments if necessary.
Finally, STOP shoveling if you have chest pain or shortness of breath and get immediate medical help.
Probably the most important tip that I can provide you today would be get those kids out there or pay your neighbors kid to shovel for you and watch from the window with a nice hot cup of cocoa!