Mother Nature always seems to have more than a few winter snowstorms for the Lakes Region. Many of our clients are fortunate enough to have our services for plowing, shoveling, and sanding, and, as a result, we’ve learned a thing or two. Take some snow shoveling tips from us this season—it might just help you stay healthy enough to hit Gunstock or ice fish on Meredith Bay!
Dress for the weather
Begin with wearing appropriate clothing. Warm clothing choices are a great start, but ensure your clothes and boots are also water repellent or waterproof. Wet clothing transfers heat from your body quicker than dry clothing, making you get cold faster.
Stretch and move
The likelihood of sustaining an injury during physical activity is reduced when you stretch and loosen up. Take the time and focus on your back, abdomen, shoulders, and legs before you pick up your shovel. Your body will thank you.
Keep your cool
We’ve covered the importance of staying dry while shoveling with water-repellent clothing. You also should be mindful of sweating. The best way to combat sweat? First, dress in layers. If you begin to feel too warm, you can remove a layer and cool off. Second, don’t over-exert yourself. Your goal is to complete your work safely. Shovel smaller loads and pace yourself.
Watch your form
Lifting is an inherent part of shoveling snow, and as a result, proper lifting technique is imperative.
- Bend from your knees or hips, not your back.
- Lift using your legs.
- Avoid twisting by waiting to throw the snow after you’ve returned to a standing position.
- Lift snow immediately in front of you—do not stretch to reach snow out or your comfortable range.
- Keep your back in a neutral, unbent position. For most people, this is a straight back.
Take a breath
Believe it or not, we often see new shovelers stop breathing. For some, when we exert ourselves, we hold our breath. Do not do that—be mindful to keep your breathing full and at a regular rate. During winter, the air is thinner, colder, and drier, and proper breathing efforts are especially important in these conditions.
Similarly, take a “breather”. Again, your goal is to complete your work. Give yourself enough time to do the job safely, and take breaks. Allow your body moments of recovery, and your risk of injury or an adverse event will be substantially reduced.
Why do we remove snow several times throughout snowstorms? One important reason is to balance the workload. Simply put, shoveling a foot of snow throughout a storm three times instead of once means we only shovel four inches at a time. This makes the work significantly more manageable and reduces the chances of injury. It’s also substantially less wear on our equipment.
Use the right equipment
If you’re going to shovel snow, use a shovel designed for snow. Go to your local retailer and find a snow shovel which feels comfortable to use. Try it out by shoveling pretend snow in the store to ensure it’s an ergonomic fit for you. Keep in mind, snow can weigh 20 pounds per cubic foot, so a smaller shovel surface may be better for you.
Know when to stop
Shoveling your own snow can be an economical and rewarding choice. Still, these attributes disappear the moment you are hurt or have an adverse event. Understand your limits and be mindful of your body while you shovel. Take breaks, ask for help, and hire a professional when it’s needed.
Bonus Tip: Did you know coating your snow shovel with a light mist of cooking spray will help snow slide off readily, making snow shoveling easier? It’s true! Try it next storm and see the difference for yourself.