4 Safety Tips For Shoveling Snow
Posted on December 13 2016
“Stick around for a few hours, the weather is sure to change.” Most Colorado residents utter these words throughout the year. Our current weather patterns are no exception. Just recently, the weather in Denver took a hairpin turn going from an unseasonably warm fall into arctic-like temperatures seemingly overnight.
From a body mechanics and physical therapy standpoint, there are some things you really should know including: proper lifting technique, the importance of appropriate shoes and clothing, ongoing physical activity and, of course, rest.
Proper Lifting Technique
One of the biggest dangers from snowfall is the risk of injury during shoveling. In our haste to clear off the driveway and keep our sidewalks safe, we sometimes overlook the importance of proper lifting technique. Simply stated: bend at the knees not the back AND avoid swiveling (or twisting) at the waist.
Appropriate Shoes and Clothing
The best way to avoid slips and falls is to wear appropriate foot protection. Because it sometimes goes unnoticed, ice can very dangerous. For that reason (and because your Mom always told you so), it’s a good idea to wear shoes with adequate traction. In addition, it’s critical to wear clothing that can protect your ears, skin and hands from the dangers of the cold.
Parental Note: It can be difficult to convince kids and teenagers to wear appropriate clothing and shoes for Colorado’s coldest days. Remind your children that they are dressing appropriately to divert danger in the case of an auto accident, stalled bus or school emergency which may require extended periods of time outside in the cold weather.
It’s no wonder that bears hibernate in the winter. On cold mornings it may be tempting to tap the snooze button and sleep right through your early morning workout. However, our bodies need a good portion of activity to stay strong. The Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum of at least 30 minutes per day, for starters. Staying active helps keep your joints mobilized and muscles engaged, so they can be ready for the physical task of shoveling snow.
Rest and Recovery
After shoveling snow or any cardio workout, it’s important to allow your body to recover from the strain of exercise. This includes cooling off by walking or stretching for about 5-10 minutes after the activity, drinking plenty of liquids and letting your muscles rest at least a day between weight lifting activities.
As physical therapists, we know first hand how Denver weather can impact life. To minimize the risk of injury, remember to: use proper lifting technique when shoveling snow, wear appropriate shoes and clothing, stay active (even when it’s chilly and you’d rather sleep all day), and allow yourself time to rest and recover from vigorous winter activities.
Yours for safety throughout the year,
Dr. Christian Jones, Littleton Peak Clinic
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