Major snowstorms are notorious for bringing severe headaches…as well as severe muscle aches!

Many sections of the country have already been pounded by snowstorms this winter, with more on the way. While there is beauty in a snow-covered environment, the labor of removing snow can cause backaches and muscular strain if not done safely and with planning.

So, before firing up that huge snow-blower and dragging it down the sidewalks or bundling up, read our safety tips for shoveling snow.

Watch out for the Shovel!

While a shovel with a normal handle may be less expensive, be cautious! Shovels with “bent” handles, often known as ergonomic handles, are excellent for decreasing back strain. Pick one with a padded grip as well.

Look for a shovel with a strong bend in the shaft as well. This shovel is designed to reduce back strain when scooping by allowing you to push and kneel.

Snow tool selection is influenced by the weight of the snow. Is there a snow tool? That’s correct!

Today’s shovels have advanced much beyond the conventional shovel, with a variety of blade characteristics (the scooping or chiseling component) designed to reduce strain and injury.

Are you looking for something light and fluffy? Aluminum is the best option.

Slushy and heavy? Shatter-resistant polycarbonate gets the job done.

Icy and suffocating? Galvanized steel corrodes at a slower rate.

Proper Form

Shoveling correctly is just as crucial as having the right shovel.

Maintain a straight back.

Bend your knees and hips.

When dropping snow, avoid bending your body. Instead, turn your entire body by pivoting your legs.

To avoid slipping on slick surfaces or black ice, use shoes or boots with good tread. Pet-friendly salt, sand, or kitty litter can be used to provide traction and reduce the chance of slipping.

Snow shoveling may be just as physically taxing as a gym workout, and it should be addressed as such.

Don’t push yourself too hard, especially if the snow is wet and thick. In deep snow, cut a few inches off the top and divide the job into thirds, taking one-hour rest intervals in between.

Prepare for and avoid injury.

Shoveling snow is both a cardiovascular and weight-lifting workout. Stretching before and after a workout or exercise is necessary, just as stretching before and after a workout or exercise is vital.

If you have a large snowfall that will take more than a few minutes to clear, take a pause and stretch in between.

Extension of the Lumbar Region

This stretch aids balance while shoveling in any forward-bending movement. Choose between standing and laying down.

Stretch 1: Stand tall and bend back as far as you can comfortably, holding for three to five seconds. Perform 10 to 15 reps.

Stretch 2: Lie on your stomach and bend back as far as you can comfortably. Hold this position for three to five seconds. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

Stretch Your Quadriceps

Pull your right leg up toward your buttocks with your right arm while standing. Maintain equilibrium by keeping your trunk straight and using your opposite arm to grip a solid item.

Hold each stretch for 20 seconds and repeat five times on each leg. This will stretch your quad muscles, which will be used to raise the shovel.

Stretch Your Hip Flexors

Lunge forward in a half-kneeling position with an upright trunk until you feel a stretch at the front of your hip.

Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat five times on each leg. This stretch will help you stretch the muscles you’ll be utilizing to move snow while also keeping your spine in a neutral position.

More Than Shoveling

A snow shovel isn’t always enough to keep up with a winter storm.

While a snowblower may certainly assist with snow removal, accidents and injuries do occur. The most common reasons for ER visits from snow blower injuries are burns, lacerations, fractures, and even amputations.

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 3,000 people in the United States are treated in emergency rooms each year due to snowblower injuries.”

To keep safe while operating a snowblower, follow these guidelines:

Never put your hands down a snow blower’s chute or around the blades. Wait 10 seconds after shutting off the motor for the blades to cease whirling if you need to clear. Clear any clogs with the handle, a broom, a stick, or a similar implement.

Keep your hands and feet free of the snow blower’s working parts.

Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing or dangling scarves that could become tangled in the moving parts and draw you into the machine.

Direct the discharge chute away from you, other people, and any potential sources of damage. Hard things, such as salt, sticks, and ice, can be thrown by the blower.

Even when you prepare and follow safe techniques, winter may be terrible.

At 1on1 Physical Therapy we’re here to help, whether you’re experiencing nagging aches and pains or have injured yourself during your winter clean-ups.

Stay warm, and remember that spring is on its way!