Shovelling snow is an inevitable part of the Canadian winter, but suffering an injury when doing it need not be.
It’s easy to get hurt while bending and lifting heavy loads of snow, and back injuries are the main culprit. Low back strain, acute disc herniation and even spinal injury are all possibilities. You can also place stress on the cardiovascular system, which can be dangerous for those with a pre-existing heart or lung condition.
- Always Warm-up before clearing snow or ice. Warming-up is vital for preventing strains and pulled muscles.
- Use proper equipment. Lightweight shovels are easier to wield, and those with a second or a curved handle help you to manoeuvre more easily.
- Dress warmly. Cold muscles are easier to injure, so wrap up.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Slips and falls can be serious, so ensure you have something practical on your feet, with a good grip. Also consider spreading salt or sand to help increase traction.
- Maintain good posture. When shovelling, keep your back straight and your knees bent, and use the shovel to push rather than lift the snow. If you have to do some lifting, do so in small batches and carry it rather than throwing it.
- Keep a proper grip. Place your hands slightly apart on the shovel. This will give you more leverage and make lifting easier.
- Shovel early. Piled up and packed snow are harder to move, so start clearing before the snow stops.
- Take breaks. Frequent rest prevents overexertion and muscle fatigue. Pacing yourself is key to preventing avoidable injuries.
- Don’t ignore pain. Any injury, large or small, should be addressed immediately. If you pull a muscle, slip, or feel muscle fatigue, stop what you’re doing to ensure any possible injury does not become aggravated by further movement. Get off your feet and ice the injury to reduce inflammation. If pain from a snow shovelling injury lasts for more than two days, consult with your doctor or physiotherapist.
To conclude, if you are unsure of how to stay active or manage your pain, speak to a professional for advice on safe ways to improve your quality of life.
Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.
Physio Proactive, 2018.