Winter is coming, which means snowstorms are right around the corner as is snow shoveling duty. Snow is great if you have kids to have snowball fights with, some hot tea and a well-placed window to sit by or no where to be, but for the rest of us snowstorms just mean exhaustion, resentfully taking vacation time to avoid icy commutes and achy backs the day after shoveling. Aside from this list of complaints, cleaning up freshly distributed snow is never fun. What’s worse is if you get injured on the job. Here are some tips on how to stay your healthiest and injury free when the inevitable happens (Sounds ominous, right? Good.).
What Should I Wear?
Our suggestion is to wear many layers. Shoveling is a funny thing. It can be snowing outside meaning it’s below freezing temperatures and before you know it you’re sweating through the back of your jacket. Layering clothes makes it easy to remove whatever you need to whenever you need to. Also, wearing a thermal is a smart choice as is wearing a waterproof or at least water-resistant outer layer. Throw on some warm socks, waterproof boots and some waterproof gloves as well.
How Should I Prepare to Shovel?
The best habit you can create for yourself before any physical exertion is warming up. For some this means jogging in place while for others it means a few quick stretches, but regardless there’s no one right answer here. Keep in mind that any warm up is better than no warm up. Warming up will help prevent pulled muscles and many other injuries caused by improper preparation for physical exertion.
How Often Should I Shovel?
The first step to take prior to seeing any snow in sight is prepare your driveway, walkway, sidewalk and any outdoor steps by applying salt or sand on the various areas outside of your home. A quick tip is to avoid using salt on concrete of any kind as it can cause concrete to crack in the long-term. Other options are to put out snow carpet or heated mats to melt snow via thermal technology or installing a heated driveway, which is of course a very pricey option.
Once you’ve prepared the areas you plan on shoveling, the job should get easier as all of these options tend to prevent snow from freezing into ice. We suggest shoveling after every 2 to 3 inches have fallen to keep the job easy and manageable. Of course, no one expects you to stay up all night shoveling; however, do what you can while you’re awake — your body will thank you later.
Finally, do not shovel up some snow and lift to remove if you don’t have to. The preferred method is to push snow to the side to prevent too much wear-and-tear on your body. This is not always possible, so your next smart option is to take a little at a time. It may be a longer and more exhausting process, but this method will prevent back injuries. We promise, its better for shoveling to take twice the time so long as back injuries aren’t added to the equation. The right technique is to keep your back straight while using your legs to do the heavy-lifting. The lower your hands are on the shovel, the lighter the snow will feel.
Once you’ve completed shoveling, it’s important to change out of any wet clothing, and it is recommended to drink a glass of warm water to stay hydrated. If you want to go the extra mile, stretch for a few minutes and put a warm compress or a heating pad on any areas of your body that have been worked that are not used to being used for physical activity.
We hope these tips make your shoveling experience a bit easier. Happy shoveling!