The air is crisp and the leaves are changing color, fall is here. That means if you live in Calgary, snow removal time is right around the corner! You might not realize it, but shoveling snow is more than just a chore – it’s a workout. Shoveling can put a tremendous amount of stress on your body, which can result in injury, or worse. Here are ten things to think about before you start shoveling.
- Preparation: Consult your doctor and make sure you are fit enough to shovel snow. Annual doctor check-ups are an important part of maintaining your health. When it comes to shoveling snow, it’s a lot like lifting weights. Make a doctor visit a priority. Make sure you are physically fit enough to shovel.
- Use the right tools: The best tool to tackle winter snow is a gas powered snow thrower. But they can be expensive to own and maintain. If you are going to do it “old school” with a shovel, a visit to your local home improvement store can help. There have been advances in technology in the last few years such as lightweight composite shovel blades and ergonomically designed shovels, which can make the job less strenuous.
- Make sure you dress correctly: Dress in layers that can be removed as you heat up when shoveling. Wear a hat to help retain body heat. Wear comfortable gloves and boots to stay warm. If you can, purchase moisture wicking undergarments and socks to keep you dry while you work. If you do become overheated, stop working and go indoors.
- Technique is important! Pushing the snow creates less stress on the spine. When you do need to lift, make sure you space your hands at least 12 inches apart. Creating a little distance between your hands increases leverage. Also, always lift with your legs; NEVER lift with your back.
- Be Knowledgeable: Know the signs of exhaustion. Be aware of your body. Make sure to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or juice. Make sure you are dressed warmly to prevent hypothermia. If you can’t feel your fingers, take a break and go indoors!
- It’s ok to STOP: If you encounter and dizziness, shortness of breath, or heaviness in the chest, STOP IMMEDIATELY and go indoors!
- Pace yourself, it’s not a race: Don’t feel like you can’t quit before you’re finished. The snow will be there when you’re done resting!
- Stretch before you start shoveling: Shoveling snow is like any other workout. You’re going to be lifting, stretching and moving. Just like a workout, before you start, STRETCH! Your muscles will thank you for it. You’re also less likely to injure yourself. When you’re finished shoveling, stretch again. Allow your body a cool down period
- Take frequent breaks: Taking ten-minute breaks allows your body to rest. It also allows your heart rate to slow down, and your breathing to return to normal. While resting, drink water or juice.
- Always carry a phone: If you do injure yourself, make sure to have your phone with you. If you show any signs of exhaustion or distress, call for help immediately! If you can, shovel when there is plenty of traffic, If you do get hurt, it’s more likely someone will see you and come to your aid!
It’s time to prepare for snow