Snow shoveling safety: lift light, shovel right
Winter has arrived, and with it comes frequent snowfalls. A shovelful of snow can weigh 5-7 pounds. Imagine the weight you have to lift to clear your sidewalk or driveway. The following tips can help keep your back healthy this winter.
- Don’t let the snow pile up. If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling allows you to move smaller amounts of snow at a time.
- Pick the right shovel. Use the lightweight pusher-type shovel. If you are using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow does not stick to it.
- Push, don’t throw. Always push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. This allows you to avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow and sudden twisting or turning movements.
- Bend your knees. If you find you have to lift a shovelful of snow, use your knees and your leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.
- Warm up. Before tackling any strenuous activity take the time to do warm up with some overall conditioning—such as 10 to 15 minutes of walking—followed by some simple stretching.
- Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or pack pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, see a chiropractor. If you have chest pain that is severe, seek immediate medical attention.