Preparation key to preventing injury while shoveling snow

Using brains as well as brawn helps reduce the risks from a necessary evil of winter.

By: Sanford Health News .

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Brains, not sheer brawn, are the key to avoid injury while shoveling snow.

Warm up

The first step is planning a warm-up before heading outside. Muscles that are cold and tight are more injury-prone than those that are warmed up and flexible. It’s good to invest 10 minutes stretching, particularly the muscles in the low back and hamstrings.

Right equipment

Also important is choosing the proper equipment, avoiding a shovel that it too heavy or too long. More advanced shovels like those with a curved handle or adjustable-length ergonomic shovels can lessen the effort needed to shovel and minimize bending. Using a small, lightweight shovel, decreases the amount of weight being moved.

Push, don’t lift

Another brains over brawn tip: Pushing the snow instead of lifting it when possible. Yet another is to avoid attempting to shovel the full depth of particularly deep snow in one scoop, instead removing a few inches off the top at a time.

Posture

Proper shoveling posture calls for legs apart, knees bent, back straight and hands 12 inches apart. To avoid bending and twisting the back, lifting with the legs is best.

When snow must be moved to a new location, don’t reach or toss the snow with the shovel, walk it over. Grip the filled shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other on the handle. The spine is strained with excess weight when holding it with the arms outstretched.

Take a break

And one more important way to use the head and the muscles: Your body will tell you when it feels overworked. When it does, listen and take a break.