Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tips for shoveling snow

Well, we were going to save this post for late November or early December, but since Mother Nature has decided that it’s open season for snow, we figured we’d post this now in case there she has any other tricks up her sleeve. (Didn’t the winter wonderland scene put you in the mood for the holidays?! I know it had that effect on me!)

Anyway, here are tips on staying safe while shoveling snow, from Glenn Divinagracia, physical therapist at Total Rehab Care:
  • Keep your knees and hips slightly bent when you walk to avoid falls on the ice or snow. This lowers your center of gravity and positions your body as a shock absorber rather than a straight upright stick that can easily fall out of balance. 
  • Dress appropriately. Wear enough clothing to keep you comfortably warm, and shoes with enough traction on the ground. 
  • Shovel smart. Keep your hips and knees slightly bent, and position your feet so that they are slightly more than shoulder width apart. This will keep you from bending over as much. Use your legs to help rotate your pelvis and body when shoveling and throwing snow to the side. Avoid twisting at the trunk with your legs and back straight - this puts more stress on the small joints and discs in the spine. Also consider using one of the ergonomic shovels available today. 
  • Alternate sides. Learn to shovel from either side so you can alternate resting opposite muscle groups in the body once in a while. Avoid using the same side all the time. Shovel and throw to the left for a minute, then switch to the right for a minute, and then push the snow forward with the shovel for a minute to give your back some rest by straightening up and walking forward. Alternate these positions to allow different muscle groups to get some rest. 
  • Don’t overload your shovel. Only dig up amounts of snow that you are comfortable with. 
  • Rest when tired. Take breaks and rehydrate. Enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and take in the winter scenery. 

I’m hoping that we don’t need these tips for the next few weeks, but keep them handy just in case!

By Kayla Murphy

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