Lift Light, Shovel Right - How To Lighten The Load On Your Back This Winter
In Toronto today, we woke up to a substantial snowfall. If you live in a condo or apartment - lucky you. No snow shovelling for you! However, for those of us who have a driveway/walkway, it means that it's time to break out the trusty shovel, bucket of salt and snow brush for the car.
While shovelling snow might seem like a basic (and easy) activity, that's not necessarily the case. It can be quite a physically taxing ordeal, with the very real possibility of injury, a slip and fall, or at worst, a cardiac event.
So, as we continue through another Canadian winter, here are some tips to help shovel effectively and safely!
✓ Prepare Yourself >> Before stepping out the door, make sure you're ready to go. Dress in layers (especially if it's not that cold outside) so you can peel items off as you work up a sweat (you know exactly what I mean!). Wear proper winter boots with good treads for grip.
✓ Have The Right Tools >> This can make all the difference when it comes to shovelling snow. Even if you have a favourite garden shovel - one that you swear by - don't use it. Instead, get a 20" (or bigger) snow shovel designed for...you guessed it...shovelling snow! Better yet, get one with the curved ergonomic handle.
✓ Warm Up Routine >> Before picking up the shovel, take a few minutes to warm yourself up and get loose. Take a walk for few minutes and then take another few minutes to stretch out your arms, legs and low back.
✓ Work Smart, Not Hard >> Have a game plan before the shovel even touches the snow. For driveways, clean a path down the middle towards the street, and then shovel outwards towards each side of the driveway (like this snow pro)!. This is an effective way to clear the snow. Also, remember to brush off your car(s) before you start clearing the snow from the driveway!
✓ Push, Don't Throw >> The beauty of large snow shovels is that they allow you to push (and not lift) the snow. As you approach the edge of the driveway, bend your knees and give the snow a light toss on to the lawn. Keep your back as neutral as possible (a.k.a DO NOT BEND FORWARD) when doing this. If there's a lot of snow (hey, we live in Canada, so it happens!), make multiple passes using only half the width of the shovel blade. While this means it will take a little more time, you'll avoid having to push heavy loads of snow.
✓ Move Deliberately So You Don't Slip >> Snow + Ice = Fall Risk. It's as simple as that. To refresh yourself on how to avoid slipping, read last week’s blog post on how to prevent falling in slippery situations.
✓ Take Your Time, Stay Hydrated >> Just like any physical activity, snow shovelling taxes our bodies. Take breaks every 10-15 minutes, and be sure to drink enough.
Like all seasons, winter comes with its unique set of challenges, and snow shovelling is definitely one of the biggest. And, don't forget to reward yourself after a job well done with a nice, steamy mug of hot chocolate!