5 TIPS FOR SAFE AND PAIN FREE SNOW REMOVAL
I would have loved to get this out sooner before our last snow fall, but since we are to expect more snow fall this season, you may want to check this out…
Some may have read the title of this article and thought, “Ha-ha… Suckers! I have a snow blower!” Well good for you, have at it 🙂 ! This was written for those that still move snow the old-fashioned way. If this appeals to you, keep reading!
Historically we have hear of MANY ruining their backs from moving snow manually. Some more extreme cases, we have hear of people literally dropping dead of cardiac arrest! I believe many of these situations may have been avoided but using a little strategy. Here are a few of my favourite snow removal moves that have got be through every season since owning having a driveway in 2007.
- Size it up – Don’t rush in. Visually sweep the area first. What is the weather like? Did you dress appropriately? Look for icy surfaces both, visible and invisible (underneath layers of snow). Depending on how much time you might have, you may need to just dig yourself out to get to work on time or you may have allowed enough time to get it all done properly. What are the circumstances? Act appropriately.
- Warm up – Yeah you could drop down and start stretching out your hamstrings and lower back, but I am not certain that would prevent anything from happening to you. I recommend a SPECIFIC movement preparation, such as starting with the walk way first. You need it cleared anyway to get to the driveway. You can also dust off any vehicles that are covered in snow too, before moving them out of the way. After the walkway, you will know; how wet and heavy the snow is that day, how much ice there is underneath, and you will have moved around moderately for a short time frame to warm up a bit for the ‘main course’. “Sport Specific warm up” as they call it in my business, will prepare you and help you assess the task at hand in more detail before getting to the harder, longer work.
- Slice it up – It doesn’t hurt to ‘game’ this thing. Depending on how big your driveway is, you can divide it into halves or quarters or more, like a BIG CAKE :). You can slot in a transition and a 1-3 min rest period after each section is complete. You can also scoop or push snow to the LEFT in one section, and then to the RIGHT in the other section, balancing out the loading between both sides of your body. Also, consider your physical size and strength when moving that white stuff. More frequent small shovelfuls over fewer larger amounts will also save your body and maybe even your time. The larger and heavier the load, the longer and more frequent you will need to rest to keep up.
- Protect your body – Lift with good form! Many people will lift in compromised positions, (I know because I have seen it). They will try to scoop the snow way out in front of their body with straight legs and bent arms. Try it in reverse! With a straight back, bent knees and your butt out, GET LOW and lift, scoop or pitch with straight arms and the shovel close to your centre of gravity. You will be balanced and prepared of you scoop something heavier than expected. This is a big culprit for back problems later. When is the last time you went to the gym and picked up an unevenly loaded barbell and tried to swing it to the side while on a slippery surface, under stress and for multiple sets and reps at varied, unknown loads? Stop! Before you go check your training log, the answer is “NEVER”!
- Change it up – Yes, I did mention left and right. We all have a more dominant side and we will usually go with that side first. But doing a few loads on the reverse side and direction will serve not only as a balance but a break to the dominant side. You can also change the style of which you move the snow and what type of tools you use. You can push snow, lift it, flip it, sweep it, scoop and toss etc. Do it all! It is much like changing exercises in the gym when doing a circuit. Variety is key as they say.
So now you know some of what you need to know. We will probably get much more practice this year then in the past couple of years. Let’s use as best perfect practice as we can to avoid having to be added to the “injured list” and force to “ride the pine” for the rest of the winter season or possibly longer.
PLAY SAFE, FOLKS!