15 Snow Tips for How to Shovel Properly

Shoveling during this time of year, for many of us, is a necessity. In fact, many cities are now mandating shoveled walks and passing out fines for those who do not comply. For those in the community who are elderly or disabled this can be quite the daunting task. I suggest to those of you who are healthy, willing and able, to offer to shovel your neighbor’s driveway if you surmise they need the assistance. If you have a snowblower, all the better. Aside from that, here are fifteen tips on how to shovel carefully and avoid problems that are commonly associated with snow removal.

One: Warm up your body prior to going out just as you would with any other serious exercise.

Two: Since inhaling cold air makes your heart work harder be sure to wear something over your mouth and nose, such as a scarf or specially made ski mask.

Three: Keep a hat on your head to retain your body’s heat.

Four: This should seem like common sense, but you would be surprised to see some of the attire people choose to wear while they are shoveling: Wear a winter coat! Better yet, dress in layers underneath a winter coat so that if you get too warm, you are able to peel a layer off and still keep warm without overheating.

Five: Get yourself some really nice, thick gloves that allow you to grip the shovel properly, keep your hands warm, and avoid dreaded blisters.

Six: Watch out for ice. Wear sensible winter shoes or boots that have good traction and allow for fluid movement in the snow. Watch where you are stepping at all times and if you come across ice underneath the snow, make sure you are putting some rock salt down to melt it. Falls on the ice create many a trip to the local hospital emergency room during the winter months so be very careful where you are stepping. Stay alert!

Seven: Be very careful about the form you are using to shovel. Make sure knees are bent slightly and the upper part of your legs and body are doing the work; not your back! This is a very important step because shoveling is well-known for being conducive to back injury. Keep your hands farther apart, rather than close together on the shovel handle, legs apart and feet firmly planted on the ground. Be sure to squat rather than to bend, when lifting up the snow.

Eight: Even though you may want to get this chore done as quickly as possible, do not hurry through it by shoveling large scoops of snow. Instead, pace yourself with small quick shovel fulls of snow.

Nine: If it is possible to do so, push the snow into a bank instead of shoveling one. Or push as much of it as you can and then follow up with necessary shoveling. It is easier to push than to squat, lift, shovel and dump. Also make sure that you are putting the snow in front of you and not tossing it over your shoulder. Make certain at all times that you are not twisting your body while you are shoveling.

Ten: Take a break if you feel tired. If necessary, go inside and rest and come back out later in the day to finish the task. While shoveling is important, your health is even more so. Listen to what your body has to say and do not shovel to the point of exhaustion.

Eleven: If you feel any type of pain or tightening sensations in your chest or are having trouble breathing while you are shoveling, then stop shoveling immediately! I advise you to telephone a doctor as quickly as you can get into the house. Better safe than sorry.

Twelve: Drink plenty of water while you are shoveling. It is important to keep yourself hydrated during any aerobic-like task.

Thirteen: Do not partake in smoking or eating a heavy meal just prior to shoveling. You are already putting your heart up to the task of extra work with the job, do not exacerbate it by eating a lot of food or smoking just prior to going out.

Fourteen: Purchase an ergonomically designed shovel. The price of getting one is not that much more than the purchase of a traditional shovel and the less strain it automatically provides on your back from the design will make it worth its weight in gold.

Fifteen: Try to shovel the snow when it is fresh. If you wait too long it compacts together and becomes more difficult to move.

If you follow the above tips while shoveling, you should be able to get through the task fairly well. It is all about form, caution and common sense. And remember, if you are healthy and well able to, go out and offer to help a neighbor who is not. It really is a wonderfully gracious thing to do. Happy shoveling, all.

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