Here are a few tips to help prevent injury while shoveling your driveways this winter:
1) Don’t let the snow pile up: Keep your eyes on the weather reports to find out if there will be several days of snow. Frequent shoveling allows you to move smaller amounts of snow at once.
2) Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type of shovel to help protect your back.
3) Push, don’t throw: Pushing snow to the side is easier on your muscles. Avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and sudden twisting movements.
4) Bend your knees: Using your knees, legs and arm muscles to do the heavy lifting while keeping your back straight.
5) Warm up: Shoveling can be a strenuous activity, so take the time to warm up your muscles with some overall conditioning like walking followed by some stretches.
6) Keep your feet on the ground: Slippery conditions while shoveling can lead to slipping and/or falls and strains that can injure your back. Shoes or boots with good treads will help to minimize injuries from slipping. Spreading sand, rock salt, or kitty litter on your sidewalk or driveway will increase traction and reduce the likelihood of slipping on the ice.
7) Take a break: Listen to your body and stop to take a rest if you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain.
8) If possible, stop shoveling and use a snow blower! When used properly, a snow blower can put less strain on your lower back. Avoid stressing your back by using the power of your legs to push the snow blower while keeping your back straight and knees bent.