It is snow season again and time to shovel. Snow is one of those dirty four letter words that begin with S. The best way to avoid injury is to not shovel the snow at all. Get someone else to do it – like the kids, your dog, your spouse or significant other. However, we all know that doesn’t happen. So off we go to shovel out the car, the driveway, the walkway and, of course, the elderly couple who lives next door.The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers these snow-shoveling injury prevention tips, which are the next best thing to a brand new snow blower:
- Dress appropriately by wearing slip-resistant shoes and light, layered, water-repellent clothing that provides both ventilation and insulation.
- Warm up with some light stretch exercises.
- Push snow. And if you have to lift snow, use the stronger leg muscles for support, not the back.
- Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side because the twisting motion may stress your back.
- Shovel early and often. The amount of snow that has to be removed is less and keeps it from freezing or partially melting and becoming harder to remove.
- Use a proper snow shovel with a pole that is longer, adjustable, and curved to decrease the amount of bending needed to lower your risk of muscle injury. More user-friendly shovels are typically made of lighter materials such as plastic or lightweight aluminum.
- Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Don’t shovel more than 30 to 60 minutes, just like you would during a regular exercise session.