What is the safest way to snow shovel??
--> First, you will want to spray non-stick cooking oil on the snow shovel to help it slide better. Put on good snow boots with non-slip tread to limit falls. And lighten up your clothing layers to avoid sweating, which will make you colder later.
--> Second, although their isn't a lot of research out there about the best shovel to use, using an ergonomic shovel with a bend in the handle appears to be a better choice because it limits how high we lift the snow, helping our backs out. (1)
--> Third, you'll want to warm up your muscles- start shovelling slowly for the first 5 minutes to get used to the motion.
--> Fourth, Have a Plan: shovel small amounts frequently instead of large amounts at once. Shovel the perimeter of the area first, then move the snow to that area - this way you are moving snow a shorter distance. (1)
--> Fifth, you want to use excellent body mechanics.
* Bend into a small squat with your feet apart to allow for greater strength and better balance as you lift;
* Lift with your legs, moving from the squat to standing;
*Keep your arms bent so that the weight of the snow close to the center of your body;
*Never twist or throw the snow - instead, pivot from your hips, keeping your trunk neutral ( imagine your trunk is an actual tree trunk, from the hips up to your shoulders);
*Don't throw the snow! Walk the snow to place it. Keep the weight as light as you can by lifting smaller amounts of snow at a time. It makes for a longer time out in the elements, but that may be better than being in pain for the rest of the day!
Afterwards, stretching might feel good to you!
(Disclaimer - This is not meant replace any medical advice or to be performed if there is a medical diagnosis involving the back. Do not perform these if you have any leg pain or severe back pain. Consult your physician or physical therapist for help in addressing/ reducing/ managing your pain professionally.)
* Single Knee to chest: Lie on your back and bring one knee up to your chest and hold for 30 seconds; then do the other side
* Figure Four Stretch: Lie on your back with both your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place one ankle over the opposite knee (think about "sitting like a man"). Then use 2 hands to pull the knee with the foot still on the floor up gently up to your chest.
* Child's Pose: from a hands-and-knees position, lower your buttocks to your heels, keeping your hands forward on the ground; hold for 30 seconds, then bring the buttocks to one heel for a 30 second hold, then to the other heel for a 30 second hold.
Contact me for any questions or to address any developing pain.
(1) "Does What kind of Snow Shovel Use Affect How Badly Your Back Hurts After? A chiropractor weighs in". Health.clevelandclinic.com. Health Essentials. 26 December 2018. Web. 13 March 2021.
(2) "Tips and Tricks for Safe Snow Shovelling". Welcome to Stamford. Home > Public Safety Health and Welfare. Stamford Government Center. Web. n.d.