Snowfall has temporary charm: it’s beautiful to watch as the flakes drift downwards, but soon afterwards, the reality of shoveling the snow settles in. When clearing your paths and driveway, there are several important things to consider so as to avoid serious injury or heart attack.
First, warm up as you would before any exercise. Shoveling snow is very physical and can burn plenty of calories, but it can also hurt your back and muscles. Stretch and jog in place before bundling up and heading out. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to raise your heart rate gradually.
Make sure you’re using the right kind of shovel. There are ergonomic shovels on the market with curved handles. These reduce the need to bend and lift when removing snow and will help protect against back injury.
Each shovel full of snow is heavy. Never overload the shovel. Push the snow to remove it when possible. If you have to lift, always lift by bending at the knees and using the power of your legs – don’t lift with your back. Don’t twist and throw the snow over your shoulder.
As with any workout, take your time and don’t overdo it. Take regular breaks where you stand up straight and stretch. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Work at a pace you feel comfortable with. If you rush or strain, you’re just risking injury that will surely bring the entire process to a halt. Listen to your body. Pain and discomfort, such as tightness in the chest, are most likely a sign is something wrong.
If you have a history of certain medical problems, like a bad back or cardiac issues, you shouldn’t shovel at all. Emergency rooms see injuries and heart attacks every year brought about by snow shoveling overexertion. Some people just aren’t physically up to the challenge of removing the snow themselves.