Tips to protect your body during snow removal

We have all heard of or experienced those dreadful body aches and pains that started with snow removal; maybe its your back, or shoulder, or knees. By making a few simple modifications to the way you remove snow you can lessen those aches and pains and limit how they affect your much waited for spring activities.

First a few general tips for all snow removal (whether it is shovelling or self-propelled snow blowers).

General Tip #1 – If you do not love removing snow and financially you are able to think about hiring someone else to clean your driveway and get your physical activity doing something you enjoy.

General Tip #2 – Do NOT clean your whole area at once. Break it up! Try to have little 3–5-minute rests throughout your cleaning at least every 10-15 minutes for those shovelling. For those with a self-propelled, you may be able to do more than 15 minutes before breaking, adjust accordingly.

General Tip # 3 – Do not forget that snow removal is physical activity. When you are done treat your body accordingly. Hydration and a snack are important to refuel your body’s energy. Stretching is important to ease the muscle tension you may experience from this activity.

Shovelling friends these are tips specific to you!

Tip # 1 – Bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight. Trying to limit the amount our back curves can help to protect it as we are lifting or moving snow.

Tip #2 – Keep your shovel on the ground! As much as possible push that shovel along the area you are cleaning and lift it at the end if you need to throw the snow over a small bank. This does two things; lessens the power you need for that throw, and lessens the amount of time you are lifting. Breaking your driveway into halves or quarters and starting by pushing the outer quarters to the edge first and then going back and pushing from the center can help to lessen the load.

Tip # 3 – Limit your twisting. We tend to forget that our feet can pivot and move, our back and upper bodies do not have to do all the work. Instead of twisting to throw that snow off to the side or behind you, lift the shovel and pivot your feet so that you are throwing forward.

Tip # 4 – Keep the shovel close to your body whenever possible. Weight gets heavier the further away from the body it is. If you fill that shovel up with snow and throw when you arms are outstretched it puts a lot more strain on your back and shoulder joints then keeping your arms closer to your body and throwing. (To make this tip work refer back to tip #2.)

Self-Propelled snow blower users these tips are for you!

Tip #1 – Keep your body close to the blower. Do not let your arms get outstretched and straight. Try to keep a bend in your elbows. If you are having to give a slight push or guide the blower this puts less strain on your back and shoulders.

Tip #2 – Let the blower do the work and turn with the blower at the end, keeping it driving forward. Instead of pulling the blower back.  Of course, if you have a blower with reverse and it helps propel you backwards you can utilize that.

Written by Andrea Riddell, R.Kin, Mount Forest FHT

For more information about any of the free services offered by the Upper Grand Family Health Team, visit our website at or call our office at 519-843-3947 x 126. Like us on Facebook at (@uppergrandFHT)

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