Don’t be fooled, winter’s not done with us yet.
Snow shovelling in Ontario is a fact of life. Each winter Trillium Health Partners sees a spike in visits to our Emergency Department—already the busiest in Ontario—from snow-shovelling.
Shovelling can cause minor and severe injuries from slips and falls, to back strains, and urgent cardiac episodes, like heart attacks. It can be either a tremendous chore or great exercise opportunity—depending on how you approach the task.
Here are three tips for safe shovelling:
Shovelling is often done immediately. We’re eager to tackle the job as soon as it comes down. But hastiness leads to injuries. Taking extra time to put on the right clothes and boots and do light warm-up exercises—like stretching—makes a difference. (Your back will thank you later).
The Right Shovel for the Job
A shovel’s weight, length, and blade size are all important considerations when picking a shovel. Don’t pick a shovel that’s too big for you or you may end up putting too much snow on the blade and hurting your back. Shovels with a bend in the shaft are easier on the lower back.
Slow and Steady with the Proper Form
Shovel at a comfortable pace with frequent breaks. Try to push the snow instead of lifting. When lifting, bend from your hips and knees, not the lower back. Avoid twists that cause injuries by pivoting your feet to face the direction you are placing the snow. Grip the shovel close to the blade with the other hand on the handle when lifting. Lift small amounts. Never lift higher than your chest and keep your elbows close to your sides.
Your long-term health is more important than clearing your driveway right away. If you experience any of the following, stop shovelling and call 9-1-1:
- Discomfort or heaviness in your chest, arms, or neck
- Unusual or prolonged shortness of breath
- Dizziness or faintness
- Excessive sweating, or nausea and vomiting
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