The days are getting shorter. Temperatures are getting colder. And snow and ice are right around the corner. Fear not. There are several tips that may help you prevent an injury this winter season.

shoveling snow If you have to shovel snow this winter, be sure to start early before the snow becomes densely packed.

If you have a joint injury or a chronic condition, you may want to speak with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for shoveling snow. If you get cleared by your doctor, consider the points below:

  1. Think ahead. Consider salting your driveway or sidewalk before snow starts falling. This may help prevent an unnecessary fall once you start shoveling.
  2. Warm up. Before you head outside, warm up for about 10 minutes to prepare your body for the vigorous activity ahead. This can include doing squats, walking, and/or stretching.
  3. Start early. It’s easier to shovel 2 inches of fresh snow than 6 inches of snow that’s been sitting awhile, becoming dense and packed. If an all-day snowfall is expected, then you may want to clear a few inches of snow at a time throughout the day—rather than waiting for the snow to stop and shoveling it all at once.
  4. Push snow, instead of lifting it.1 Pushing snow is easier than lifting it. But if you must lift it, keep these pointers in mind:1
    • Keep your feet hip-width apart
    • Bend your knees and keep your back straight
    • Try not to twist your torso when lifting snow
    • Shovel small amounts of snow at a time
    • Don’t throw the snow into a pile; instead walk it over to where you want to pile it2
  5. Stay hydrated. Shoveling snow is taxing, and you’re probably doing more work than you think. Take breaks and drink liquids while you’re shoveling. Remember to hydrate after you’re done shoveling as well.

Lastly, consider hiring someone to do the shoveling for you. The cost may be well worth it to prevent an injury or avoid making joint pain worse.

Learn more:

Treating Acute Sports and Exercise Injuries in the First 24 to 72 Hours

The P.R.I.C.E. Protocol Principles

References:

  1. Snow Shovelling. Toronto Paramedic Services website. thttp://torontoparamedicservices.ca/safety-tips/snow-shovelling/. Accessed November 28, 2016.
  2. Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snowblowing Injuries. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00060. Accessed November 28, 2016.