Did you know that a shovelful of wet snow can weigh up to 11 kilos, and that shovelling snow can require as much energy as running 15 km/hour?
It’s not surprising, then, that many people get sore muscles after shovelling, especially if they’re not doing it right. Here are some tips for reducing your risk of hurting yourself while hauling the wet stuff!
Begin by wearing temperature-appropriate clothing. If you’re cold, you may find yourself rushing the task, which increases your risk of injury. On the other hand, since shovelling snow is hard physical work, you will probably get warm after a few minutes of work. In cold weather, wear several layers of clothing, so that you can remove a layer if you get too hot.
Be careful with the size of shovel you use. If the shovel is too big, you could be lifting too much weight. With smaller shovels, the risk is that the handle will be too short, which forces you to constantly be stooped forward.
Whenever possible, clear the snow by pushing it with your shovel. If you have no choice but to lift the snow, lean forward slightly while bending your knees and keeping your back relatively straight. Remove a small amount of snow at a time and straighten up by unbending your knees. Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side, which forces you to twist your torso. Walk to the unloading site while keeping the shovel of snow close to your body, to avoid putting any tension on your spine.
If you have a lot of snow to remove, take your time. Take regular breaks to rest and drink a bit of water if you feel dehydrated. If you feel unwell, have a chest or radiating arm pain, difficulty breathing or any other symptom of a heart attack, seek help immediately.
Lastly, if you have any chronic health condition, only shovel snow if your doctor has told you it is safe for you to do so.