Deep in the grips of a recent “Bomb Cyclone,” Eastern Canada and the United States are being hit with record snowfalls. For the first time in recent memory, even southern Ontario had a white Christmas! Of course, with a winter wonderland, comes the dreaded snowy driveways and walkways. And cold! Shoveling snow in the winter is not to be taken lightly. The impact on your back and heart can be very serious.
Many Canadians underestimate how cardio intensive and exhausting shovelling can be. Our clinics see an influx of patients suffering for low back pain and other muscles aches from the strain of carrying and throwing heavy amounts of snow.
Follow these tips to help you enjoy a healthy and active season.
When shopping for a shovel, look for these features:
Seek out the push/dump shovel available at most hardware stores
Find a shovel made out of light material, such as plastic
Make sure the handle is long enough to prevent you from bending forward while you shovel
Follow these steps while you shovel:
Keep your back straight – don’t curve at the spine, which can put extra pressure on your lower back
Try to push the snow instead of lifting it – this will help alleviate some of the weight
When your shovel is full, take one step forward and dump the snow – gage how full a shovel you can easily carry and maneuver. Taking longer, but with a less full shovel can help prevent injury
Avoid twisting at any time – this can wrench your back
Dress warmly, and take frequent breaks so you can stop and catch your breath. If you feel light-headed or faint – stop shoveling.
Make sure you warm-up your body before starting to shovel to keep your muscles loose and ready for the intense exercise.
If you experience persistent pain after shoveling or other activities or would like more information on a general stretching program, make an appointment with a physiotherapist, massage therapist or chiropractor.