Shovel snow the right way

JANUARY 22, 2018

Don't let winter get the best of you; learn how to safely remove the white stuff.

As Canadians, we are all too familiar with having to shovel piles of snow after a major winter storm.

Although this might seem like a routine chore, there are simple techniques that you can use to help prevent a potential injury this season. Here are some valuable tips to consider before tackling the snow this winter.

1. Use the right type of shovel

Choose a lightweight shovel that’s right for you. If the shovel feels heavy before you have even started, the snow will only make the load heavier. It is also important that the hand grip is made of wood and not metal as metal can get cold.

Once you have the right shovel, it is important to keep your hands about 12 inches apart with one hand close to the blade and the other on the handle. This will provide you with better stability and more control over the shovel.

2. Don't let the snow pile up

Don’t wait for a large snowfall to begin shoveling. Try to clear the snow earlier and more often. Waiting for the snow to pile up can increase the risk of injury, as shoveling smaller piles more frequently is quicker and requires less energy than tackling a larger load after a heavy snowfall.

3. Use safe shoveling techniques

When you are getting ready to shovel, it is crucial to bend at the hips and the knees, and not at the lower back. This will enable you to work with your legs while keeping your back straight, preventing a potential back injury.

The most important technique to remember is to push the snow in the desired direction as opposed to lifting it. Pushing allows you to control the pile without having to lift a heavy load. Remember, snow is heavier than it looks.

4. Take frequent breaks

A heavy snowfall creates an exhausting job for anyone responsible for clearing it. It is important to break frequently, stretch your body, and head inside regularly to warm up. Shoveling snow in the cold weather can place a huge amount of stress on your body, therefore it is important to pace yourself and not rush to get the job done.

Start shoveling slowly with smaller piles as a warm up and continue on with a steady pace. It is most important to listen to your body.

If you begin to feel sore or exhausted, take a break and come back to the task later.