There are different reactions to the forecasted upcoming snow. Most school children (and teachers) are doing a happy dance, anticipating some time off. Many people are groaning, though, and preparing for what could at best be a nuisance and more likely be a fairly substantial storm.
The quick moving snow showers that the region saw last week shows how pretty this late-season, wet snow can be as it clings to the trees. However, the same denseness that creates such beautiful, natural white sculptures is also what necessitates additional caution when dealing with its removal.
Shoveling (and even snow blowing) are aerobic activities and should be approached as you would any strenuous exercising. First and foremost, if you have health issues, best to delegate or outsource the snow removal to someone else.
Just like before you start any other exercise, make sure to take the time to stretch and warm up your muscles a bit. Don’t jump into it cold (pun intended).
Slow and Steady
It can be tempting to want to wait until the snow has stopped falling, attack it all at once and try to clear it as quickly as possible. This is not the best approach for your body. It is better to take care of the snow early and often. For your health, it is better to clear lighter, smaller amounts of snow throughout the time it is falling (assuming it is safe to be outside), rather than trying to later clear what could be around a foot of heavy, wet snow. Take your time, allow for rests and be careful to not do too much, too quickly.
Pushing the snow, if at all possible, is much gentler on your body than lifting. If you have to lift, consider how you would lift weights at the gym – or a heavy box. Be kind to your spine. Be sure to squat and bend your legs – don’t bend at the waist. Better to do multiple small amounts than overdo it with an overload. Avoid any twisting motions, such as throwing the snow over your shoulder, that can add stress to the back.
Water, Water, Everywhere
You’ll probably be sick of water (especially the frozen kind) while you’re shoveling, but it is extremely important to keep hydrated. We usually associate dehydration with warm weather activity, but remember snow removal is exercise. Just like you would during a run, be sure to take water breaks. A side benefit of water breaks is that it allows your body to rest for a little bit as well.
Done right, shoveling can actually be healthy exercise. Be sure to listen to your body, take rests and don’t overdo things.
With all of the snow and ice, accidents can happen. If you have an unfortunate spill, urgent care can help with breaks, sprains and strains.
Stay safe and dream of Spring.