Tips: How to shovel snow safely

Though it snowed quite a bit in Toronto last night, I am hearing there the worst of the storm that


Though it snowed quite a bit in Toronto last night, I am hearing there the worst of the storm that is currently wafting through southern Ontario still to come. If the Weather Network is right,  another 10 centimetres of fresh snow will be waiting for me when I get home, and then we’ll get drifting snow for the rest of the night. This means shovelling the driveway numerous times will likely be a part of many people’s evening plans.

No matter where you live in Canada, shovelling is an inevitable part of winter. But if it’s not done right, it can leave you in pain. That’s why the Ontario Chiropractic Association is urging people to shovel safely with their Lift Light and Shovel Right campaign. Their simple advice will keep you safe when the snow flies. Here’s a rundown of their tips:

Don’t let the snow pile up
If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow at once. It’s far less strenuous in the long run.

Warm up
Before tackling any strenuous activity take the time to warm up with some overall conditioning (a 10- to 15-minute walk, even on the spot, should do it), followed by some simple stretching.

Pick the right shovel
Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel. If you are using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first, so snow won’t stick to it.

Push, don’t throw
Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.

Bend your knees
If you find you have to lift a shovelful of snow, as with lifting any heavy object, you need to use your knees and your leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.

Take breaks
If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, see a chiropractor. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a medical doctor immediately.

I’ll be sure to keep their advice in mind, but will also keep my fingers crossed that someone else in my family will have shoveled the day’s accumulation of snow by the time I get home.

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