Happy Holidays! As we get ready for the upcoming season we also need to prepare for the physical demands of winter – particularly snow shoveling. Whether or not you love or hate snow, being safe with snow removal is very important. Thousands of people are treated in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices every year for injuries sustained while manually removing snow. Most commonly, you see back and shoulder problems as well as heart issues. Below are listed several tips and tricks to ensure a safe and healthy winter.

  1. Warm up before activity: perform gentle stretching for your legs and arms. You may also warm up through marching in place for a few minutes to get your heart pumping.
  2. Wear breathable layers: This will provide the insulation you need to stay warm, but also ventilate as your body heats up with activity.
  3. Shovel often: don’t wait until the end of a large snowfall to begin removal. It is better to go out a few times through the day when the snow is easier to manage. This can reduce your risk for injury.
  4. Push don’t lift: it is better to push the snow out of the way because you can use your body weight to control the motion. It could put undue stress through the back and arms if you are lifting a shovel full of snow.
  5. Never throw snow over your shoulder: if you absolutely need to lift up the snow, never toss it over your shoulder or to the side. This places a twisting stress through your back. It is better to square up with the area you plan to place the snow.
  6. Take breaks: allow yourself to rest every several minutes. Stretch your arms, back and neck. This is especially true if you feel your hear rate getting too high.
  7. Hydrate: Shoveling can be a vigorous activity. Even though it is cold outside, you may still sweat. Drink plenty of water.
  8. Ergonomic tips: try to use a shovel with a curved handle. This will allow your back to stay straight. Use a plastic shovel instead of a heavy metal one. Place your hands at least 8 inches apart to get better leverage on the shovel.

Keeping these things in mind will help you to stay safe while shoveling. Please see your local Freedom expert for more information and tips on staying healthy and enjoying more freedom this winter!