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Lift Light, Shovel Right!

It’s that time of year again. We welcomed our first light dusting of snow in late November but there is without doubt much more yet to come. While clearing your driveway and walkway is a necessary part of the winter season, it can also lead to injuries if done incorrectly. Here are a few tips to keep you in tiptop shape while battling Jack Frost and Old Man Winter this season:

Prep Work:

Warm up first! Just like you would do a warm-up before working out at the gym, you should warm up before tackling the snow in your driveway. Go for a short walk around the block and warm your muscles and joints up with a set of range of motion exercises. If you have health concerns, talk to your healthcare provider before you begin shovelling this winter.

Pace Yourself:

Start slow and pace yourself. You should take breaks regularly. Start shovelling before the snow has finished falling. This will help you avoid dealing with snow that has piled up over hours and that has become heavier, especially if mixed with wet snow or freezing rain.

Keep Hydrated:

Shoveling is hard work! You need to keep hydrated just like you would with any exercise regardless of the temperature outside. Keep water on hand while outside.

Use Proper Tools:

A shovel should be sturdy but not overly heavy (the snow is heavy enough). A plastic blade is generally more lightweight than a metal blade. The ideal shovel is made of plastic but has a metal edge that will help you break through the ice. An ergonomic shovel with a curved handle will help prevent muscular fatigue. Choosing a shovel with a smaller blade will force you to lift smaller loads and reduce the strain on your back.

Wear Appropriate Clothing:

Layers are best. You are going to work up a sweat while you shovel. Being able to remove a layer if too warm is helpful. Wear a hat and mittens. Your boots should have a good grip to help you avoid slipping on icy pavement.

Use Proper Lifting Techniques:

Push, don’t throw. Push as much of the snow as you can. If you must throw, do not twist. Lift with your legs and keep your back straight. Position yourself so that you are throwing the snow straight ahead of you. Here is a video with our own Dr. Hamid showing you how it’s done!

Winter is here to stay… at least for the next few months. Before long, the days will grow longer and the beautiful white covering on the ground will be gone. In the meantime, keep your back happy and healthy with these tips and be sure to visit your chiropractor, physiotherapist and massage therapist to keep you functioning at your best while enjoying your favourite winter sports and activities!

To book an appointment, call 613.860.8600 for our Byward location, and 613.237.9000 for our Glebe location – or book online with one of our healthcare team of chiropractors, physiotherapists or massage therapists.