An amazing thing happens in the winter when it snows. People who haven’t budged from their chair all year suddenly leap out of it, grab their shovels and head outdoors to shovel the snow off their steps and driveways and/or to tackle a huge icy berm.
Unfortunately, sometimes their actions precipitate a visit to the doctor or emergency room due to a variety of issues including everything from back pain to heart attacks. Most of the time these issues don’t have to happen because there are ways to shovel snow that make a visit to the local emergency room far less likely due to serious health concerns.
There are people who justifiably should not touch a snow shovel or should use common sense when they go out to shovel the cold white flakes off the stairs and driveway. Anyone who has had a heart attack, people with a history of any type of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels and/or people who are permanent “couch potatoes” should consider paying someone to do the shoveling because shoveling snow results in a strenuous workout.
If you’re stuck with the job, however, here are some tips to help safeguard your health and avoid back injuries.
First off, keep yourself hydrated; warm up by walking a few minutes or stretching before digging your shovel into the snow. This pre-shoveling procedure is important for the work ahead.
Shoveling snow isn’t a walk in the park. Begin slowly and find a shovel that’s meant for moving snow, not planting flowers. The older, heavier metal shovels may work better in some snow conditions but they aren’t the best for your back. A smaller blade is better not only on your back but on your heart. Remember that to be safe means going slower, not faster. Shoveling faster and faster to get the work done takes a huge toll on the heart, which is the most vital muscle in your body.
Because shoveling heavy snow takes its toll experts suggest people balance their body weight and then bend their knees to actually dig the shovel into the snow. If people tighten their stomach muscles at the same time they bend their knees this is far more effective. Don’t attempt to throw too much snow at the same time because this results in many back injuries.
Remember, it’s your back and heart that take the toll of shoveling incorrectly or trying to shovel it too fast. Slow down, stay hydrated and shovel the snow in smaller scoops. Your body will appreciate it!
Remember, Mountains Community Hospital is here to help. For our help call (909) 336-3651. “We Care!”