Our first snowfall is here whether we like it or not. It is time to find the snow shovel and the salt. While doing this, I remembered all the aches and pains I felt after shoveling, so I decided to find out if I can avoid that this year. Here is what I learned:
7% of injuries and all deaths relate to heart problems. Over 11,000 adults and children are seen in the ER each year with snow-shoveling related injuries. Many of these injures occur in the morning when our back is the most unstable because the back has not felt the forces of gravity for 6 – 9 hours.
This explains part of my aches, but how long should I wait before I go outside and shovel?
It is suggested that we do our morning routine for 30 minutes or more before going outside to shovel. This gets your back use to feeling the force of gravity and gets the muscles moving. However, who wants to get up that much earlier in the morning? I know I don’t. So is there an alternative?
Yes, stretching. By stretching our arms, legs and back before and after shoveling will help the muscles warm up and reduce muscle strains. This can be done by walking around, marching in place and doing a few warm up exercises.
Also, don’t drink that cup of coffee or alcohol before heading out the door. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages may increase your heart rate and can reduce your blood flow. Water or decaffeinated drinks like herbal tea will help hydrate our body before and after you shovel the snow. Fortunately for me, I never liked the taste of coffee.
I’ve warmed up my muscles and avoided caffeinated beverages and alcohol, so now what?
Dress in layers rather than just one large coat. The layers should allow freedom of movement, and you can remove the layers to avoid becoming over heated as you shovel. Make sure nothing gets in the way of your vision, like your hat or scarf. Ice can develop under the snow, so you need to be cautious at all times.
Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear, gloves and headwear to avoid frostbite. You don’t want to be wearing loose shoes, shoes that aren’t water-resistant or footwear with smooth soles to prevent twisting your ankle, getting cold and wet feet or slipping on the ice.
I’m dressed in layers with the appropriate footwear and gloves, but how do I avoid injuries while I shovel?