The Proper Way To Shovel Snow
The first snow is always so beautiful in New England. It drapes off the trees, coating everything in a blanket of soft white. That’s what we all think for the FIRST snow fall. By the second, third and more snow storms, we’re just aggravated we have to shovel, snow blow, etc. Not only is it an aggravation for many, it’s also a chance to throw out your back or neck, or experience any of several injuries associated with shoveling the heavy white stuff. There’s a right and a wrong way to shovel. Do it the right way to avoid injury. Here are some tips.
- Warm up by doing some basic stretches. Sounds silly but it will limber up those muscles to prepare you for the onslaught about to begin. Shoveling is a workout in itself, burning about 500 calories in an hour — and that’s just a small amount of snow. When there are many feet of snow involved, be prepared to burn a whole lot more. Because you’re working different muscle groups when you shovel vs. take part in your regular workout routine, you often feel stiff and sore the next day.
- Refrain from eating, smoking, or drinking coffee right before shoveling — these substances are stimulants that increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels.
- Spread salt over the area so you don’t slip.
- Dress in layers so you can easily peel off garments as you get warmer.
- Don a hat or earmuffs, as most of your body heat is lost through your head.
- Wear boots with good traction.
- Wear gloves with good grips.
- Use an ergonomically correct shovel featuring a curved handle which encourages you to keep your back straight to prevent undue stress on the spine. A shovel that is designed to push snow rather than scoop it is best.
- Use a plastic shovel over a metal one, as plastic is lighter. Choose a small blade over a large one for smaller loads and less stress on your back.
- Space out your hands as you grip the shovel for increased leverage.
- Be conscious of your posture, being careful to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
- Keep your feet shoulder width apart for balance.
- Avoid bending with the waist or back. Bend at the knees instead.
- Don’t twist side to side with feet planted. Move your feet and turn.
- Scoop a few inches at a time if there are several piled high. It’s better to chip away at a pile than attempt to lift huge chunks at once.
- Rather than throw snow over your shoulder, move in a forward direction. Scoop, turn, walk and dump, or just push it.
- Shovel snow right after it has fallen, as this is when it’s at its lightest. Once rain has fallen, the snow gets dense, with one shovelful weighing as much as 20 pounds, according to Spine Universe.
- Take many breaks in between, pausing for a glass of water.
Be safe out there this winter! Remember, you don’t have to shovel your own driveway and walks, especially if you are in declining health or work full time. Our professionals can get the snow cleared in no time with our snowblowers and equipment. We even do commercial snow removal work. Call T&B Landscape and Irrigation now at (978) 296-5290. We offer customized winter programs, snow plowing, snow removal, and sanding and salting.