Shovelling Snow

Shovelling Snow - Shovelling Safely!

Winter on Newfoundland’s west coast can be a winter wonderland, filled with many outdoor activities. Along with all the outdoor activities it has to offer, citizens of our region are accustomed to large amounts of snow fall during the winter.

Some general recommendations that will help you stay injury free while snow clearing include;

1. Choose the proper equipment

-Use appropriate light weight shovels made of plastic pans with wooden handles

-handle heights should measure to your chest height

-Have an assortment of shovels for different tasks (scoop or push shovel to push snow to edge of driveway, smaller shovels to lift snow to clear)

-Dress in layers to avoid overheating and wear non slip shoes to avoid falls

2. Use the proper technique

-When lifting use small shovels with small pans and take only small amounts.

-Push snow with larger shovels longer distances using your legs not your back.

-If snow is heavy, break snow apart and try not to overfill shovels or scoops instead load only small amounts.

-Use your legs to lift, keeping your spine neutral. Try to avoid twisting your spine.

-Try not to throw snow over shoulder height or too far away from your body.

-Point your feet towards the direction you are throwing the snow.

3. Stay prepared and pace yourself

-Prepare yourself early in the winter season by creating areas to allow for large snow falls later in the season.

-Perform a short warm up and a few active stretches prior to commencing shoveling.

-Remember to take small amounts of snow in scoop or shovel

-If driveways are long take frequent breaks every 15 minutes to rehydrate, rest and stretch.

-Most importantly if the forecast calls for large amounts of accumulation start your snow clearing efforts early and clear often.

If you do experience persisting pain or discomfort speak to your physician or a registered physiotherapist.

For more information on proper snow shoveling techniques you can visit Canadian Physiotherapy Website

Quick Tips:

  • Warm up your muscles and perform a few stretches.
  • Your shovel should be light in weight (approximately 3 pounds).
  • The shovel blade should not be too large, or else the load will be too heavy.
  • The handle should be long enough so you don’t have to stoop.
  • The handle should be wood or plastic - metal gets too cold.
  • Lift the shovel with a broad based grip; your hands should be shoulder width apart.
  • Lift with the larger muscles of your legs and bend your knees, not your back.
  • Turn your feet in the direction you are throwing the snow, don’t twist.
  • Do not throw snow over your shoulder.
  • Pace yourself and take frequent breaks.

Any individual that lives a sedentary lifestyle or has a preexisting medical condition, including heart conditions should receive clearance from their physician prior to snow clearing during the winter season. As well you should stop clearing snow immediately and seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:

  1. Chest discomfort
  2. Chest tightness
  3. Profuse sweating
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Nausea
  6. Light headedness