Tips For Shoveling Snow This Winter
For those who live in regions that experience a fair share of wintry weather, shoveling snow is a necessary seasonal chore. However, it can also be a potentially dangerous job if you don't take the proper precautions. Here are several tips to keep in mind the next time you're out clearing your driveway following a snow storm.
Before You Go Out
There are a few important things to keep in mind before venturing out in the blustery cold to clear those piles of snow from your driveway and sidewalk.
- Check with your doctor. It may sound over-the-top, but shoveling places a lot of stress on the heart and at least having the conversation with your physician is a smart idea. If you have a medical condition, or do not exercise regularly, it may be best to consider hiring someone to take care of the snow for you.
- Dress properly. It's important to stay warm and cover all extremities by wearing thick socks and boots, gloves or mittens and a hat or winter headband. Dress in layers of clothing that are light and water-repellent. This will help you to stay warm by providing both insulation and ventilation. Wear shoes that have slip-resistant soles.
- Work early and often. If you start the shoveling process early, you'll avoid having to deal with heavy, packed snow. Frequently clearing the light dustings of snow will help you out in the long run and create less work.
- Warm up. Shoveling snow is no easy job, it's a strenuous task that takes a lot of energy and muscle work. Therefore, it's important to warm up your muscles indoors before heading out. Stretching and engaging in light exercise for 10 minutes will get your body moving and prevent strain or potential muscle injury.
"Pace yourself and take frequent breaks while shoveling."
While You Shovel
Some people may thoroughly enjoy the excitement of being outside in the freshly fallen snow and warming up their muscles a bit. For a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience, consider these tips when shoveling.
- Find a proper shovel. It's important that the shovel you use is not too heavy or too long for you. To reduce the weight you are lifting, consider using a smaller shovel so that you pick up less snow. This may seem counterproductive to the task at hand - but you'll be putting your health first.
- Pace yourself. It's extremely important to take frequent breaks when shoveling. Just a few minutes of shoveling is equivalent to moderate physical activity.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids during the day when shoveling. Just because you are not visibly sweating as much as you normally would, you still need to drink water. It is still possible to become dehydrated.
- Avoid twisting. It's a common habit to toss the snow to the side or over your shoulder with your shovel once you've scooped it. However, this motion can put stress on your back. Instead, aim to push or shovel the snow forward.
Recovering From Shoveling
After a full afternoon of shoveling snow, you'll likely feel exhausted but accomplished. Here are a few tips to help you recover.
- Rest and do light exercise. The first thing you'll want to do is collapse on the couch. However, it's important to stretch and cool down after shoveling, just as you would after any other physical activity. This will help to prevent soreness later. Then, take it easy and rest for the remainder of the day.
- Ice and heat. If you are sore right away, using a cold pack for tension relief may promote comfort. Within the next 24 hours, use a heating pad to reduce symptoms from shoveling.
- Treat yourself. You've worked hard - treat yourself with a delicious meal and warm mug of hot chocolate by the fireplace.