There’s still a bit of snow on the ground from our last dusting and more is surely on the way. Before you grab your shovel and head out to clear the driveway, check out these snow shoveling tips to make sure you’re not one of the thousands of people who suffer an injury from shoveling snow and ice this winter.
Before You Go Out
Your preparation for shoveling should begin before you even get outside. Get your body ready for the work ahead by stretching and warming up for at least 5 minutes before going outside. Try squats, walking, or stretching to get your heart going. When you’re warmed up grab a bottle of water to bring outside with you. It’s important to stay hydrated while working.
Layers Are Key
It’s very important to stay warm while shoveling. Layers will help to keep you warm while you shovel. Don’t forget to wear a hat as you lose much of your body’s heat through your head.
Prep Your Tools
Whether you have a plastic shovel or a metal one before you start shoveling spray down the shovel blade with a liberal amount of cooking spray. This will keep snow from sticking and help the blade glide through the snow.
Shoveling a few inches of snow is easier than shoveling a foot of snow that’s been packed down. If the forecast calls for all-day snow it’s usually a good idea to shovel a few times throughout the day rather than all at once at the end. If you know the snow is coming spread ice melt on your drive and walkways to make them less slippery.
How to Shovel
Before you start shoveling, plan to take frequent breaks. Sudden bursts of vigorous exercise in cold temperatures can cause heart attacks. Snow removal is a hard job; respect that and you’ll have a better time of it.
The American Heart Association recommends shoveling on a mostly empty stomach and using a smaller shovel or snow blower for snow removal as both put less strain on your heart.
Back injuries are extremely common when people get out the snow shovel, but they don’t have to happen to you. Remember to lift with your legs and bend your knees when shoveling, but don’t twist. Throw snow forward, not to the side. Remember to hold the snow shovel close to your body. Overreaching causes strain on your arms, shoulders, and back. Alternately you can try pushing the snow away from you, which is often easier than shoveling.
Consider the Alternative
Before you bundle up and head out to shovel consider hiring someone else to do the snow clearing for you. The cost is generally minimal and may be well worth it to avoid an injury.