The eight S’s of safe snow shoveling –

With a lot more snow headed for southern Manitoba, snow shoveling could be part of your daily chores more than once this week. A health and fitness coordinator from southern Manitoba is offering some helpful tips for keeping safe and eliminating the pain that can be caused by shoveling snow this time of year.

“I think most of us have heard tips and tricks for shoveling show over the years but it is always good to have a little bit of a reminder,” says Jen Hurrie. “Or perhaps shoveling snow was never an issue before but now you are dealing with back pain or things you weren’t dealing with in past years.” 

Hurrie gives us the eight S’s for safe snow shoveling:

1. Shovel – Purchase an ergonomically friendly shovel that is light in weight and curved through the shaft. Grip further down toward the scoop of the shovel to shorten the lifting lever, space your hands approximately one foot apart to balance the load. This will transfer some of the work from you to the shovel.

2. Stretch and Warm-up – Warming up your muscles and stretching before heading out to shovel can help prepare the body and minimize injury. Shoveling is a full-body workout so try some squats, lunges, arm circles, and even some wall push-ups to get things moving.

3. Start Early – You do not have to wait until the snow is finished falling. Taking a few inches off at a time will help minimize the load and ultimately make the task easier on your body.

4. Slow and Small – Take things slow, take breaks, tackle small sections at a time. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to.

5. Strategy – Push the snow and avoid lifting and twisting as much as possible. Think about the winter ahead and star your piles further back from the edge of your driveway if possible so on future snowfalls you can continue to push instead of lifting heavy loads.

6. Support – Know your limits and when it is time to call in support from friends, family or community.

7. Sip – Do not forget to hydrate with water. The cold can trick you into thinking you are not thirsty but it is important to replenish fluids during physical tasks like shoveling.

8. Salt and Sand – Using some salt or sand on your walkways can minimize the need for constant shoveling and reduce the risk of slipping.

Hurrie says if you are feeling the effects of shoveling, before reaching for heat or ice consider why it is that you are sore.

“It is likely normal that you’ll feel a bit sore since your muscles are doing something they are not used to doing,” she explains. “You might want to consider a warm bath when you come in from shoveling as well as stretching those muscles out again that you did before you went out. But if you are feeling sore due to muscle strain or acute injury…then you want to consider more ice.”


This story was originally posted on December 22, 2020


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