Snow can be fluffy, snow can also be very heavy. Snow can be used for fun winter activities but it also needs to be removed from our sidewalks and driveways! If you usually shovel the snow from your property we want to make sure you stay un-injured and do it safely! This post is all about how to do just that. Shoveling snow is a common cause of back injury. Make sure you keep your back out of it.
You don’t need to do an lengthy warm up before shoveling but make sure you start out slow. You also don’t want to be cold so dress warmly and ideally head out from a warm place right before shoveling.
How to save your back from snow shovelling
Use this cool tool attachment to save your back, it can be attached to any straight shovel and really helps gain leverage. Check out these products, they might help save your back!
You can also use a curved shovel such as this one to save your back.
Curved shovels or adding the extra handle will help keep your back upright instead of bending over too much. Other common areas that might get injured include the shoulder. Make sure to push instead of lifting where possible and push amounts of snow that you can manage without strain. Bring the snow close to you without reaching too far forward. Remember that a bigger shovel is not always better. Ergonomics is important so keep it in mind!
Make sure to get outside and stay active!
Many people tend to stay indoors during the winter months. It is still important to be physically active and is instrumental in injury prevention.
- Take a moment to consider the things you like about winter. Maybe it’s skating at a nearby rink, tobogganing with the kids, building snow forts or just enjoying the brilliant blue sky Albertans enjoy each January. Finding ways to be active outdoors that you actually enjoy will help to make the winter pass faster.
- Invest in the gear. Being cold while trying to be active outside isn’t fun and it’s not likely that you’re going to stick with your winter activity for long if you’re uncomfortable. Given that in Alberta winter lasts four months (or more), investing in the proper outerwear is a worthwhile to help keep you active.
- Create goals and look for something to train for. While many people think that race season winds up in winter, myself included, John Stanton, the founder and CEO of the Running Room was quick to correct me. It turns out that while things do slowdown in winter there are still plenty of races, like the Resolution Run and the Hypothermic Half Marathon to take part in. If running’s not your thing, there’s the Silver Skate Festival and the Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race. Preparing for any of these winter sporting events will keep you active outside throughout the season.
- Too cold outside? Move your workout indoors. Does your local recreation centre have a racquetball court, indoor pool to offer other activities or classes? Really don’t want to go outside at all? Workout in your home – skip rope, do jumping jacks or dust off that under-used treadmill.
Be careful and minimize slips and falls
During winter, many physiotherapists see patients for injuries that occurred during a fall due to winter conditions. Stay upright and prevent falls with the following tips:
- Check those treads! Just like the tires on your car, when the treads on your shoes or boots are smooth and worn down they won’t offer much grip on ice and snow, making you more prone to falls. Check your footwear at the start of the season and keep an eye out for when it’s time to invest in some new footwear with rubber soles and non-slip treads. You might also consider buying spikes or coils(traction aids) that you strap to the sole of your shoes to give you better grip on ice and snow.
- What about those icy sidewalks? Fact is, walking like a penguin by shuffling and keeping your knees bent to maximize the contact between your shoes and the sidewalk helps to keep you balanced and on your feet!
- A fall can be detrimental to anybody especially the elderly. While fall prevention is important for the elderly all year round, it’s even more important on slippery sidewalks and streets. For more information, visit Finding Balance.
- Salt your sidewalks! It will help others as well as yourself not slip and risk an injury!
Lastly, you may want to enlist the help of a younger person on your street to shovel your walks. Maybe even help a young teenager make some cash if you want to avoid shoveling altogether.
We hope that these tips will help you to stay safe and active in the winter months. Be careful of your back to make sure you stay healthy and get out there and have fun!
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