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Snow covered rooftops are a wonderful picture to behold. But snow packed around your house could cause many accidents, slip and fall, or ruin your curb appeal when all white fluff thaws away come spring. Snow shoveling isn’t fun but its unavoidable and winter safety activity. Every winter most of us have to endure this most intense and time consuming chore.

Shoveling is hard enough. Don’t compound the drudgery with the wrong shovel and bad shoveling techniques, both of which can put a serious strain on your back and even your heart.

So as winter gets underway, here are some tips to prevent injury when shoveling snow.

Know if you shouldn’t shovel

Clearing snow and ice off your driveway and walkway can prevent falls in winter but keeping your safety while shoveling is also a necessity. If you have chronic condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, joint injury, do not exercise regularly or are middle-aged or older, consult with your doctor to ensure your health. Consider using a snow blower or snow removal service as an alternative means of snow removal.

If you’re cleared by doctor, consider the points below:

Think ahead

Salt your walkway and driveway before snow starts falling, preventing unnecessary fall when shoveling. Also once you cleared your driveway and weather forecast snowfall. Pre-treating your walkways and other paved surfaces with an anti-icing product can help make snow and ice removal easier.

Be aware that rock salt can damage brick, stone, asphalt and concrete walkways.

Dress appropriately

Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature. Wear warm socks, a head covering, a scarf and mittens or gloves. Wear waterproof boots with soles that are slip resistant.

Warm up first

Just like how you wouldn’t lift weights or go for long run without stretching and warming up, you shouldn’t shovel snow without getting your muscles properly prepared. Shoveling snow isn’t just a chore – it’s a full body workout. Your arms, legs, back and core all contribute as you clear your driveway. Before you head outside, warm up for about 10 minutes to prepare your body, with light exercise, squats and/or stretching. Warming up first can prevent injuries and heart attacks.

Right tool for the job

For any activity if you have the right tool, it minimizes the strain and stress from your body. You may feel larger the shovel scoop, quicker the work. Snow, particularly wet snow, is heavier and bigger scoop means you’re putting strain on your neck, shoulders, and back.

Make sure the shovel fits your body size and your level of strength. Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load – this will strain your back. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier. Choose a snow shovel that is comfortable to use and is not too long or too heavy. Your shovel should only require you to bend your knees slightly it shouldn’t have you doubled over.

Use proper posture

Once you’re warmed up and you’ve got the right shovel, the next step is to make sure you maintain proper posture.

  • The proper way to lift a shovel full of snow is to keep your back straight while bending your knees and squatting down with your legs apart.
  • Lift smaller loads of snow.
  • Do not throw shovelful of snow over your shoulders or to the side, instead carry them, to avoid twisting your upper torso. This will help prevent “next-day back fatigue.”
  • Keep your arms close to your body when carrying shovelfuls of snow, to reduce back strain.
  • Push rather than lift. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body
  • Switch off between snow shoveling right-handed and left handed, so that you’re working different muscles. Likewise, periodically change your grip on the hand holding the bar (palm under vs. palm over)

Start early

Start removing the snow when the ground is lightly covered, when it is lighter and fluffier, and keep clearing it often. Doing this greatly reduces the accumulation of heavy, packed snow. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move. If the snow is deep, remove it in layers. Skim the top 6 inches off, then scoop up the bottom 6 inches. Otherwise you could be hurting yourself by lifting too much.

Enlist help. Nothing makes clearing the snow goes faster than having an extra set of hands.

Stay hydrated and take breaks

Avoid overexerting yourself. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated since shoveling snow is taxing. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.

Lastly consider hiring someone to do the shoveling for you. The cost may be well worth it to prevent an injury or avoid making joint pain worse.

If you are looking for snow removal service, call us, Choice Janitorial, at (773) 292 -6015.

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