Shoveling Snow Safely

Protect Your Back When Shoveling Snow

 

First thing: Warm up

Stretch your arms and legs before shoveling.  Warm muscles work more efficiently and are less prone to strain.

 

Secondly: Watch your body position

As you shovel, stand with your feet one to two feet apart and keep the shovel close to you body.  Bend from your knees and not from your back.  Avoid twisting.

 

Shovel early and often

By not letting the snow accumulate you can address it when it is lighter and hasn’t condensed.  Push the snow instead of lifting it.

 

If you must lift, lift it properly

Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs and not with your back. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow and walk it to where you want to dump it instead of turning and throwing it.  Holding a shovel full snow with your arms away from your body puts too much strain on your spine and places you at risk of injury.

 

Never remove deep snow all at once

If the snow gets ahead of you and accumulates, do it in sections.  Shovel a couple of inches at a time and then go a little lower.  Rest and repeat as necessary.

 

Do Not Twist

Bending and twisting is the most common way that the back is injured. Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side.  This will cause you to twist.

 

Pace yourself

Shoveling snow is an aerobic activity.  Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.  If you feel out of breath, you may need to discontinue for a while and resume later.

 

Watch out for ice and severe weather

Avoid slips and falls by wearing good shoes or boots.  Watch for symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite. Basic symptoms include redness, numbness, swelling of the extremities or confusion.  If you are experiencing any of the symptoms go inside and seek medical assistance. For additional information please visit:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothermia/DS00333

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/frostbite/DS01164