Shovelling Snow without the Aches and Pains
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), if you load a shovel (weighing over 1kg) with 5kg of snow every five seconds, you will move a load of over 70kg in one minute. Repeat for fifteen minutes and you will have shovelled 1,000kg of snow!Shovelling snow is risky because of the distance the head of the shovel is from your spine. The further the object being lifted is from your body, the greater the force placed on your spine is. Shovelling can place excessive stress on spinal structures and is one of the most common causes of back injuries during the winter months. Injuries are not only limited to the musculoskeletal system but excessive shovelling could also place stress on the cardiovascular system.
What can you do to avoid post-shovelling aches and pains?
- Give yourself plenty of time to shovel and do not rush yourself.
- Use a couple layers of clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to strain than warm, relaxed muscles.
- Do warm-up stretching of the arms, shoulders, legs, and back beforehand.
- Push the snow into the snow bank. Do not throw it. If you must throw it, position yourself so you can throw it straight ahead at the snow pile.
- Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions such as throwing the snow over your shoulder or to the side.
- Bend your knees to lift when shovelling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
- Take regular breaks to alleviate the strain off your muscles.