Safe Shovelling Tips
Winter is the season of cold and snow and you need to be mentally and physically prepared so that you can enjoy the great outdoors and it’s wide variety of activities, including the need to move all that frozen white stuff that falls on your sidewalks and driveway.
When it snows not everyone has the use of a snowblower or a snow clearing service and this arduous task often falls on the home owner to tackle! Being mentally and physically prepared to move all that frozen white stuff is critical to success and though it isn’t necessarily considered a fun activity, you can alleviate the drudgery by thinking of snow shovelling as a form of exercise.
On that premise, the procedure for taking on this often tough workout should be similar to what you might do in the gym and we’ve got some suggestions for making the task easier while also preventing injury.
7 Great Tips For Successful Snow Removal
- Dress The Part! You wouldn’t wear dress shoes and a shirt and tie to run on the treadmill so approach your snow removal with the same idea that your attire will make all the difference in getting good results. Starting from the ground up, a warm pair of boots with good tread for traction is the foundation on which to build. For your other extremities, mittens instead of gloves will help keep fingers warm while gripping a shovel, and a toque for the noggin, since you can lose a proportionate amount of heat through your head. Otherwise, it’s best to dress in layers not only because you can add more when the weather is colder but can also peel off one or two as your body heats up from exertion.
- Limber Up! When starting a workout it’s advisable to do a warmup, heating your muscles, joints and tendons, then follow that with a stretch. the same is true for handling a shovel for snow clearing so a quick walk followed by some arm, leg, and back motions will get your body prepared for the real work.
- Choose Your Weapon Wisely! Not all people are built alike and neither are all shovels. Ensure your tool is the right size for you and your level of fitness, as well as for the specific task and the type of snow for which you’re dealing. If it’s light snow and you’re mainly just pushing it aside, a wider shovel may be best. If we’re talking about wet and heavy snow or you need to pick it up and throw it, choose a smaller shovel to make the job easier.
- Mind The Mechanics! Weight lifters know that form is everything and part of the process for success. Likewise, the mechanics of shovelling snow is no different if you want to avoid back strain. Keep your back straight, push the snow into a pile, then scoop snow by bending your knees and lifting the weight with your legs, keeping the snow load close to your body. When throwing the snow, avoid twisting, and lighten the load if the snow is wet and heavy or if you need to throw it further away.
- Plan Your Piles! The first snowfalls are likely to be easier to manage because you’ll have space to pile it but as the season progresses and the snow accumulates you may need to do some snow-pile management. Better to plan ahead, toss the earlier snowfall piles further away and prevent more work later. Or, you may need to get into those piles that build up and move them back in stages so you have space to pile the next snowfall without having to throw them too far and/or risk excessive strain or twisting.
- Don’t Over Do It! Better to stay on top of any accumulation by shovelling in stages, doing the job several times during the snowfall instead of waiting for it to end and then doing it all at once. You may also need to take breaks during the job too, based on how heavy the snow is and/or your level of fitness. Despite peeling off layers as your body heats up, you may perspire and you’ll need to manage that so you don’t end up getting overheated, perspire too much and get wet, which will ultimately cause you to get cold. And like any form of exercise that creates perspiration, drinking water is important and somehydration breaks may be necessary.
- Remember Your Liability! You are responsible for the sidewalk in front and/or beside your home, so clearing snow in a timely manner is your civic and legal duty. Depending on how much foot traffic uses your city owned sidewalks, ice may develop so a follow up to shovelling may be the need to sprinkle a bit of pet and plant friendly ice-melter or some rock chips for traction. Speaking of liability, this might be a good opportunity to speak to your insurance broker and ensure that you have adequate home coverage.
By following these tips you’ll have a better chance of avoiding over-exertion and injury and increase your ability to keep doing the job all season long. We all want to protect ourselves and members of our community from injury by keeping our sidewalks clear of snow and have them stay slip free!
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