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5 tips for safer snow shovelling

Snow shovelling

Slippery conditions while shovelling can cause slips, falls and/or strains that can injure your back or arms. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of injury when shovelling.

Wear shoes or boots with good treads.

If slippery, spread sand/salt on your sidewalk or driveway to increase traction and minimize the risk of slipping.

Prepare your body for physical activity.

Warming up properly by walking and performing a few gentle stretches helps your muscles work better and prevent injury.

Use proper equipment – select a shovel that is right for you.

Shovels come in many shapes and sizes and are made from different materials. Consider a shovel with a small, plastic blade as it reduces the amount of weight that you are moving. Also the handle should be sufficiently long to help minimize the amount of forward bending.

Use proper body mechanics.

Whenever possible, push the snow rather than lifting. If lifting is necessary, keep this in mind:

  • Hold the shovel close to you with your hands about 12 inches apart.
  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and bend through the hips and knees.
  • Lift with your legs to maintain the natural curve in your back.
  • Minimize the amount/extent of reaching with your arms that is used to throw the snow.
  • Use your legs to shift the weight and get closer to where snow is being deposited.
  • Avoid twisting your back to throw the snow over your shoulders.
  • Always move your feet to face the direction to where you are dumping the snow.

Pace yourself.

Keep your loads light. If possible, shovel early as fresh snow is lighter. Take lots of breaks to stretch your back and extremities.

We hope that these tips will help prevent any strains/sprains, slips or falls! Be safe out there.

About the author

Jennifer Toland

Jennifer Toland is a physiotherapist with extensive knowledge and experience in orthopaedic issues and specialized training in vestibular rehabilitation therapy.

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1 Comment

  • I’ve come to enjoy moving snow for the outdoor exercise and the occupational benefits – when using optimal body mechanics. Keeping hydrated and taking rest breaks when needed also facilitate a beneficial “precipitation relocation” experience!