For those of us who grew up in the snow belt, shoveling the white stuff is nothing new, and certainly nothing we think too much about before we start. After all, it’s just shoveling, right?
Well, maybe not. According to an article from WebMD, more than 11,000 people go to the hospital every year due to snow shoveling injuries. Most of these injuries were strained muscles and pulled backs, but more than a few were very serious – sometimes deadly – heart-related issues. ALWAYS consult a physician before performing any strenuous activity, such as snow removal.
With that in mind, it’s extremely important to take the proper steps to ensure that you’re shoveling safely. Read on to learn how to clear your driveway and sidewalk safely.
Safe snow removal starts before you ever sink that shovel into the snow. Before you even head outside, it’s important to dress appropriately. While it’s cold outside, don’t forget that you’ll be working hard, so dress in layers so you can keep comfortable as you work. And don’t neglect your feet. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable boots with good treatment. As someone who broke his leg falling on ice, I can’t stress the importance of good traction enough.
Now that you’re properly dressed, it’s time to limber up a bit. Stretching out can help prevent injury, and since the majority of injuries are strained muscles and pulled backs, this is one you won’t want to skip. Not sure how to stretch out effectively? Here’s a nice, easy to follow guide from MettlerCenter.
Stop me if you’re heard this one, but: lift with your legs, not your back. It’s a simple bit of advice, but it bears repeating because most people default to using their backs.
Don’t underestimate how much work shoveling can be. Make sure to take breaks as you get tired. Another great tip for making the work a little easier is to switch out which side you’re shoveling on, and how you position your hands on the shovel. This will use different muscle groups, and keep you going longer.
As you shovel, make sure to pile snow in a few different areas. Not only will this help prevent the snow from sliding back down onto an area you’ve already cleared, but it will also prevent piles of snow from blocking your view when backing out of the driveway.
Following the above steps will ensure that your driveway and sidewalks are snow-free, and you’re able to enjoy the rest of your day without nagging back pain or worse, a trip to urgent care.
As with anything, it is important to know your limitations. Be sure to consult a physician to ensure it is safe for you to shovel snow. If ever in doubt, stop immediately and call a professional.