Shoveling snow can be a lot of fun! I remember loving it as a kid. But as an adult, it can be hard on the body, especially heavy snowfalls, record snow storms, blizzards and back to back storms. Your body may not be in the shape it used to be to shovel or you may be ill or already have an injury that you do not want to get worse.
Here are some shoveling tips that will help make the process easier:
- Hydrate yourself with water. Make sure you drink a glass or two especially if you will have a lot of snow to shovel. As you sweat, you will lose water.
- Eat a nutritious meal before you go outside. Include protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Do not make it a full meal however right before. Leave 1-2 hours in between eating and shoveling. The body will want to focus on digesting not shoveling right after!
- NO caffeine, alcohol or nicotine! You will not want chemicals running through your vessels if you are going to be exercising. By the way, there is vasoconstriction for 18 hours after you smoke a cigarette. Alcohol can dull your senses and response time.
- Stretch before shoveling. This is exercise. All athletes stretch before events. It will lessen the chance of injury. Shoveling by hand will burn 408 calories per hour (assuming a body weight of: 150 lbs).
- Protect your back by using proper body mechanics. Bend the knees with lifting not bending at the hips. Keep your back straight, and feet at hip width while bending the knees.
- Hold the shovel close to the body.
- Try not to lift and twist. Muscularskeletal injuries can occur with the twisting.
- Do not wait for large snowfalls to shovel. You may have to go out more than once to get the job done but in the end, it is better for your endurance, strength and less taxing on your body. If the snow is heavy definitely, shovel!
- Pick up small amounts of snow. Use a smaller blade shovel.
- Push the snow away from you rather than lift. Remember the body mechanics!
- Take breaks
- Have fun! Make a snowperson, polar bear or have a gentle snowball fight with someone. If you have a safe hill, take a break and go sledding!
- Stretch again but not to the point of pain.
- Hydrate yourself with water.
- Take a warm shower to help relax overused muscles.
- Rest. Eat a snack.
- Make an appointment with your chiropractor. No doubt you over did muscle straining at some point especially if the snow is heavy and deep. You do not want to set your body up for further injury and/or body malfunction with the vertebrae pressing on spinal nerves.
If you are out of town when the snow storm hits make arrangements ahead of time to have your house, sidewalk and driveway shoveled. Remember you may be coming home late and shoveling in the dark is dangerous. Black ice can cause falls. You don’t want to end up with any broken bones.
Make sure you clear a pathway for people to walk. Walking in the street is dangerous. Don’t forget a path for Fido. Dogs have walking and bathroom needs that we take for granted.
Shoveling can be a neighborhood event. Get to know your neighbors. Shovel together. Pay it forward and shovel parts of your neighbors’ sidewalk, especially if they are at work or they are ill or elderly. Have a pot luck dinner afterwards and get to know them! Making lemon out of lemonade.
Next blog post will be tips on Snowblowers.
Shovel wisely. Have fun. Be safe.
Spread the joy,
Donna Marie Laino, RN