Shovel Your Walk – Safely!
February 4, 2014
What made the holiday season so pretty, can also be a source of much winter frustration and pain for some people. Of course, we’re talking about snow. As lovely as the fluffy white stuff can be, the sight of an early winter snow squall can send many homeowners into a fit of the humbugs as they prepare to shovel their walks. Snow shoveling may be an extremely common chore in the winter, but it can also be a challenging one. Because of the exertion required, and the fact that it’s not something we have to do all year round, shoveling snow is a very common cause for accidental injury, especially at the beginning of the winter. Luckily, there are a few tips you can follow to help avoid an accident and make snow shoveling less of a pain.
Make Sure You’re Healthy Enough To Shovel
Be honest with yourself, and make sure that you’re well enough to engage in strenuous physical activity, Snow shoveling can be harder than you expect. If you have a history of heart trouble or lung problems, have high blood pressure, have back problems, or generally lead a very inactive lifestyle, you might not be physically capable of shoveling your walk by yourself. Ask a friend or neighbor for help, or hire some assistance. Depending on your age, you may also be able to get some volunteer assistance.
Just like you would for a workout, make sure you stretch well, hydrate properly, and warm up before you start shoveling. Cold muscles are more likely to suffer from strains and pull. Performing dynamic motion exercises will help prepare your body for the physical demands of shoveling. Forward and backward arm swings help to warm up your arms, shoulders, and upper back. Perform side-to-side trunk rotations to warm up your core and low back muscles. Add some forward and backward leg swings for your lower body.
Have The Right Tools
It’s probably time to throw out that ancient shovel that no one actually remembers buying and invest in a new one. New shovels are lightweight and ergonomic and make the job much easier. There are also sprays that can be used to treat the blade, most of which are made with silicone, that will prevent the snow from sticking.
Layers are definitely the way to go. Make sure as much skin as possible is covered up. A hat, scarf, and gloves are a must. Make sure that your boots fit well, are warm, and have sturdy, anti-slip grips to prevent a fall. Physical activity, especially that which makes you feel exhausted, can leave you more vulnerable to hypothermia, so make sure to stay warm and bundled up.
Use Proper Technique
- Push the snow rather than lifting it;
- Stand with your feet at hip-width for good balance;
- Bend with your knees rather than your back;
- Walk the snow over to a pile rather than throwing it;
- and shovel as often as you can so that you don’t have to do a gigantic pile all at once.
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