“Shoveling is strenuous work and hard on both the heart and the back. For older people or persons with a history of back or heart problems it might be better to avoid this job altogether. This is especially true under extreme weather conditions” - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Before you start:
- Pick a light weight shovel which has a handle that reaches your chest height when the blade is on the ground.
- Ensure you have shoes or boots with good treads, and spread salt or sand on any slippery patches to avoid slipping.
- Warm up! Walk briskly, or march on the spot then do some gentle stretches focusing on your back, hamstrings, shoulders and arms.
- If you can push the snow rather than lift it, it is easier on your back.
- If you can shovel soon after it falls, you can avoid it freezing and becoming heavy and harder to move.
- Break up heavy boulders of snow instead of trying to move them with your shovel as is.
- Always keep your feet, hips and shoulders facing the direction of the snow you are going to lift.
- Lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight (bend at the knees, not the back!)
- Keep the load light, just take the first few inches off the top of the snow pile you are shoveling and work your way down
- Don’t twist your back when dumping the snow off your shovel. Turn your whole body to keep your feet, hips and shoulders all facing the same direction.
- Instead of reaching or tossing the snow, walk to its new location to dump it off your shovel.
- Pace yourself. Shovel with a buddy if possible and take a break every 10 to 15 minutes.