6 essential snow shovelling tips to help save your back

October 17, 2014

When it comes to shovelling snow, poor form can cost you your time and health. But with the right techniques, you can help protect your back from potential injury. Here are 6 tips you should know before digging in.

6 essential snow shovelling tips to help save your back

If you've ever spent hours shovelling your driveway, and then the next few days popping Aspirin to relieve your aches and pains, maybe it's time to make sure you're using the right techniques. Here are 6 tips to help you.

1. Warm up before you shovel

Shovelling snow isn't just a chore — it's a full-body workout. Your arms, legs, back and core all contribute as you clear your drive. But how often do you stretch first?

  • Just like you wouldn't lift weights or go for a long run without stretching and warming up, you shouldn't shovel snow without getting your muscles properly prepared. With a little proper stretching beforehand, you can warm up the muscles, get your blood moving and prevent potential injuries.

2. The right tool for the job

When was the last time you took a good look at your shovel? Is the height right for you? Is the handle curved or adjustable? Is the blade too large for the weight you can carry?

  • The right snow shovel will save you time and energy because you won't have to overcompensate for its shortcomings. Your shovel should only require you to bend your knees slightly — it shouldn't have you doubled over.

3. 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. This means you should always:

  • Use your leg muscles to lift and push, instead of your back
  • Keep your back straight while you squat and stand
  • Rely on your shoulder muscles whenever possible
  • Hold the snow shovel close to your upper body
  • Keep one hand near the blade of the shovel for better leverage
  • Avoid twisting of your upper body when you toss scooped snow

4. Team up and start early

Nothing makes clearing the snow go faster than having an extra set of hands! If you've got friends, neighbours or family that can assist, enlist them to help.

  • Starting early makes the job easier too. Your body is less likely to end up injured or strained by shovelling an inch of snow a few times a day instead of waiting until there's a foot on the ground to get started.

5. Hydrate and rest

Remember what we said about shovelling snow and full-body workouts? That holds true when it comes to taking breaks and drinking water.

  • Exhaustion and dehydration can cause sloppy form, which usually means bad posture and injuries. It's far better to rest as you need it than to put yourself permanently on the couch because you've thrown out your back.

6. Now stretch… again!

At the end of any good workout, you're going to want to cool down. The same is true for clearing the snow.

  • After you've put down the shovel and kicked off your boots, take a few minutes to properly stretch those tired muscles. And remember to replenish your body with fluids as you admire your clean driveway!
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