Tips to Stay Safe and Prevent Injury While Shoveling Snow
It’s beginning to look a lot like…winter in Erie, PA. Our licensed physical therapists put together a list of tips to keep in mind when clearing the snow in order to decrease your risk of injury and stay safe during this “Season of Snow”.
- Don’t let it stick – Before going out, spray your shovel with cooking spray. This prevents the snow from packing up on the shovel, which weighs it down. The snow will just slide right off.
- Stay hydrated – Despite the cold temperatures, you still sweat while you work outside, so consider it a workout! Drink plenty of water before and after you are outside. And be sure you have proper nutrition (complex carbs, protein) before exerting yourself. If you are diabetic, check your glucose levels and be sure you don’t drop to unsafe levels.
- Keep your back straight – Push when you can. Don’t bend over to scoop up snow with the shovel. Squat down to scoop up the snow and use your legs to lift up.
- Don’t twist or arch your back – When emptying the shovel, keep a foot behind you and pivot, turning your toes the direction of your body (nose and toes point in the same direction), or use your arms to flip the shovel being careful not to over arch your back.
- Get your steps in – Walk over to where you are piling snow rather than trying to overthrow it with the shovel. This prevents you from twisting or arching your spine.
- Break it up – work in segments. With deeper snow, take scoops from the top and work down before you work out along a path. If you have a long or wide driveway, divide it up by doing a swipe down the middle and then work out toward each side.
- Breaking it up is about taking rest breaks as well. If you are out for a prolonged period of time, every 20-30 minutes stop to rest, stretch, and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Depending on the outside conditions, you may need to return inside to rewarm or change wet garments.
- Ice isn’t nice – If you are pushing the shovel and it scoops under an icy layer, don’t try to lift it up. Get the shovel over that layer and just remove the snow first. Then use a tool to chop and break up the ice into smaller pieces to scoop up. Or use a chemical de-icer (Be sure it states Pet Safe/friendly on the container if you have furry friends!).
*If you have a history of heart disease, consult your physician before shoveling or snow blowing to determine if it is safe for you to do so.
If you have any questions regarding snow removal safety, contact your Niagara Therapy, LLC Physical Therapist. And remember, there is no shame in hiring someone, contacting a neighbor, or church to help you out. Take it slow, out in the snow, and remember these tips to help you prevent injury while shoveling snow.