Samantha Hvasta, DPT
Snow shoveling tips
Winter is here and freezing temperatures, sleet and snow can cause havoc and injuries. Before you begin to clear snow from your driveway or walkway, remember that snow shoveling is a cardiovascular and weight-lifting exercise. It should be treated like a day in the gym—stretch before exercising and take it slow if you’re not in shape. Using good body mechanics will decrease the stress to your spine and decrease your risk of injury and falls.
Here are some tips to keep good body mechanics and avoid overexertion when snow shoveling:
• Take the time to warm up and stretch before shoveling and take frequent breaks.
• Keep your back straight or at a slight inward curve; it will decrease the pressure on your low back when lifting.
• Be sure to face the snow you plan to shovel and lift.
• Bend your knees, tighten your stomach and use your leg muscles when lifting snow. This will help divide the weight of the snow more evenly and help protect your back.
• Keep the shovel as close to your body as possible when lifting and moving snow.
• When moving snow, avoid twisting your back by turning your whole body and pivoting with your legs to face the new direction. Avoid ‘tossing it’ to the new location.
• Use an ergonomically correct shovel (the rod of the shovel will bend in an elbow shape). Adjustable handle lengths help to prevent excessive bending, and a lightweight blade helps reduce the amount of weight you are lifting.
• Grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and place your other hand on the handle.
• Move smaller amounts of snow and tackle your snow-shoveling project by dividing the job into thirds, with one-hour rest breaks.
• Wear shoes or boots with good treads. Spreading sand, salt or kitty litter on your walkways will reduce the likelihood of slipping on the ice.
Now is the time to see a health care professional and take care of any back or leg injuries. Clearing snow after a winter storm when you already have an injury could aggravate it further. Be sure to take the proper precautions, and remember to stay warm!
Call your local NovaCare Rehabilitation center or visit novacare.com today for more healthy tips and tricks.
You can contact Samantha Hvasta, DPT, manager at NovaCare Rehabilitation located at the Blueberry Crossing Plaza at (609) 561-5308 or visit novacare.com.