Every year, the dreaded snow storm hits. At this time we all look for our shovels buried somewhere in the attic, and think to ourselves “I hope I don’t blow out my back today.” Well, you don’t have to. With these tips, you’ll be sure to remain safe and healthy.

– Avoid coffee or other stimulants before shoveling. This will cause your blood vessels to constrict and force your heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.

– Stay hydrated. Just as is the case with any physical activity, it is very important to drink plenty of water beforehand.

– Warm up before grabbing the shovel. Just a couple of minutes of marching in place and stretching can better prepare your body for the vigor it is about to endure. You will be much less likely to strain your back or other body parts.

– Use a smaller shovel. By using a smaller shovel, you reduce the load you need to lift. Yes, this means more repetitions. But in the long run, this is safer and puts less strain on your back.

– Body mechanics are everything. Improper body mechanics: bending your back over with your knees straight, and then twisting your body as you throw the snow onto the other side. Proper body mechanics: bend your knees and hips while maintaining a straight back, square up and use your legs to lift the shovel and snow, not your back.

– Get close. The closer you are to the load you are lifting, the better leverage you gain. If you are constantly reaching long while shoveling, you are going to be putting extra, unnecessary strain on your back.

– Don’t be a hero. At the first sign of even subtle back pain, put the shovel down. Pushing through the pain could transform a small strain into a herniated disk, don’t make that mistake. It’s better to spend the money on a snow plower than the money and time it will take to fix your back.

– Watch for heart attack warning signs. Pain in your jaw, neck, shoulder, scapula, and arm are all significant warning signs. As are feelings of weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and excessive sweating.

-Dr Rofe
Esprit Wellness
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