How to prevent shoveling injuries?

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When it snows, it also means it’s time to shovel...

Shoveling snow repeatedly with altered biomechanics and poor posture can cause many unfortunate injuries. In addition to weak techniques, the weight and imbalance of snow, using a long lever arm (shovel), will most commonly target the low back and shoulder area.

The physical exertion required to carry and move heavy snow isn’t a piece a cake either. Research has found that risk of heart attack is higher in the few days after heavy snowfalls.

Another big mistake people make is rolling out of bed and heading outdoors immediately to clear the snow after being inactive during many hours while sleeping.

Shoveling should be considered as an exercise and according to the previous articles on our blog, we now know how important it is to warm-up and wake up  your muscles as a preparation to a physical activity.

Few key pointers to remember while shoveling:

Body position and muscle awareness:

By keeping your knees slightly bent, hinged at the hips and legs in a wider stance, you will take some of the tension off of the low back and favorise the use of bigger muscles like the glutes, human’s best friend!

While being in a partial squat position, don’t forget to contract your core muscles by keeping your abdomen flat and tensed (as if someone was to give you a punch in the stomach).


Shovel position:

By using a wide grip on the shovel and keeping the it close to your body, you will decrease the lever arm and make it easier for your muscles to do the work.

Don’t cheat:

Pivoting with your hips instead of twisting with your back is a safer way to handle the snow while shoveling.

Also, hold your shoulders back (see scapular stability article) and your neck tucked in.

Use your lower body to lift the snow instead of your low back,  while keeping your body aligned in the direction you are shoveling the snow.

If you can plow the snow instead of lifting it, your body will definitely thank you later!

Take breaks:

As we mentioned earlier, shoveling should be considered as a workout, so don’t hesitate to take breaks, have a sip of water when you feel the fatigue is setting in.

The snow is part of our beautiful background in the Sea-to-Sky, might as well treat it as our workout buddy instead of the mean one that injures us and stops us from enjoying outdoors activities ;)