Ice storms, freezing rain, heavy snowfall and dangerous road conditions. These conditions sum up how many Torontonians have enjoyed their winter thus far. While most dread shoveling their driveway, this daunting task doesn’t have to leave you stiff, sore, or even worse, with a thrown out back. Here are some tips for shoveling that may prevent you from any unwanted injuries:

Gear up:
Consider investing in a snow blower. Through safe operation, a snow blower can save you time and save your back. Just remember to service and appropriately prepare for the off-season to safeguard your asset.
Wear proper footwear. Winter boots with proper treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
Choose a waterproof jacket and gloves. Dress warmly, preferably in several layers so you can remove if it gets too hot.
Ergonomics aren’t just for your chair. An ergonomic shovel that comes with a curved handle will help prevent injury and fatigue on your back. Spraying the blade with a silicone-based lubricant will allow the snow to slide off more easily, reducing jerky movements required to throw snow.
Pick the right shovel for you. While the allure of a large shovel is less trips back and forth on your driveway, it also means a larger load to lift each time. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on the body. Pick one appropriate for your body size and remember – a few minutes saved from shoveling your driveway is probably not worth a potential back injury.

Before You Start:
Warm up for 5 minutes to increase blood circulation and get your joints moving. Focus on stretches to your legs, back and upper core which will be utilized heavily during shoveling. For more specific exercises, feel free to ask Dr. Tammy Yuen during your next visit.
– Make sure you’ve had a moderate amount of food and plenty of water. You actually burn anywhere from 187-280 calories per hour from shoveling.

All Set:
– Always, always, always keep your spine in a neutral position. This means maintaining the natural curve of your lower back by avoid over bending or arching of your back.
Keep your core muscle and back tight. Avoid twisting and turning by positioning yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.
Lift with your knees, legs and arm muscles and do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back in a neutral position.
Swap arm positions regularly. Don’t over-work one side of your body. Swap your arm positions to evenly distribute the work between both sides of your body.

Be Alert:
Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Throw down salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.
– If you experience any palpitation and chest pain, stop intensive physical activity immediately and consult a medical professional.

Although its not within our realm to predict what weather may come next, (He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. -Psalm 104:19), with these tips in check, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a pain-free winter.

From the Abundant Life Health Centre team: Stay warm and have a safe winter!