Every winter, our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists treat clients with injuries and conditions that have been caused by that most Canadian of chores – shoveling snow. Here in the GTA, we all expect to get a dose of snow and other bad weather during the winter months, and keeping the sidewalks and walkways clear isn’t just a chore – it’s a health and safety issue.
However mundane and necessary, it’s a task that can result in injuries and other health issues, some of them serious. Here’s a look at how to stay safe when shoveling snow.
- Dress warmly in layers. You will begin to warm up after several minutes of shoveling, so you will want to be able to adjust the layers to suit. The goal is to avoid sweating, since that will chill your skin even underneath all those layers.
- Wear good boots – that means water-resistant snow boots with a non-slip sole.
- Keep your mobile phone in your pocket in so that it’s handy.
The Physical Side
- Shoveling snow exerts as much energy as a brisk workout. That means you should be sure you are medically fit for the exercise. If you do not workout on a regular basis, have existing cardiac issues, high blood pressure or other debilitation condition, and/or are middle-aged or older, you should consult with your primary health practitioner at one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics.
- Stretch before you go out. Shoveling snow involves muscles and ligaments you may not use in an office, retail or other work environment. Stretching also helps warm up your muscles in the cold weather. Your Toronto physiotherapist or chiropractor can give you advice on good stretching exercises for a bout of snow shoveling.
- Be sure to stay hydrated. We’re more aware of water loss in the hot summer months, but you need as much water as if you were working out.
- Take frequent breaks. Yes, it means it will take longer, but you can’t just keep pushing beyond your usual capabilities without consequences.
The right technique will help prevent injury and strain to back, arms, and other areas.
- Wherever possible, you want to push the snow to the side rather than lift a heavy shovel full of the white, fluffy stuff.
- During heavy snowfalls, don’t wait until the barrage is over. Shovel every time a few inches or so has accumulated. It will keep the snow and ice from sticking to the paved surface, as well as lightening your load.
- Invest in an ergonomically designed shovel made of lightweight plastic rather than metal that will reduce the load.
- Use your legs to lift if you must, rather than placing the strain on your lower back.
- Straighten by straightening the legs.
If you need advice on shoveling snow or any other activity, drop by or call one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics to make an appointment today.
https://www.sima.org/discover-sima/public- safety/safety-tips/safe- snow-shoveling
http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/news-room- articles/new-national- study-finds- 11500-
emergency-department- visits-nearly- 100-deaths- related-to- snow-shoveling- each-