Freshly fallen snow is pretty to look at but eventually, you have to get out there and shovel it off your driveway and sidewalk.
But it’s not exactly an easy task. Snow gets heavy and as a result, you can do some serious damage to your back if you don’t use the proper techniques while shovelling.
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Justin Wilson, a physiotherapist at City Sports & Physiotherapy suggests starting out with the right footwear and the right shovel.
“The first thing I would think about is to always wear good footwear because it is probably going to be really slippery out there. And always use a shovel that fits your body,” he told Daily Hive Vancouver.
Once you have those things set, Wilson says to always shovel on both sides of your body.
“A lot of people always shovel towards their dominant side. But it makes sense to shovel both directions. Really use your try to use your legs and not your back,” he said.
Some more tips Wilson suggests to prevent injury:
- When shovelling, keep in mind that you should be bending down to a bit of a squat when you are lifting the snow.
- Take breaks every 10-15 minutes or whenever you are starting to feel tired. Break up your shovelling into sections.
- Take time before and after you shovel to stretch. Wilson suggests a brief, dynamic, warm up of upper body stretches and squats. Afterwards, do more static, holding stretches targeting your glutes and lower back
- Spread salt, or sand on your sidewalk or driveway before shovelling to help the ice melt.
These tips may seem like shovelling is a serious sport. But Wilson says that if you don’t know the right techniques, you are at risk for injury.
“We have seen a couple (cases) in the clinic this week, where people have overstrained their back. And then we have also seen a few people slip and fall on the ice,” Wilson told Daily Hive.
There are also ways effectively shovel snow. Daily Hive reached out to Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) in North Vancouver to find out what shovels techniques work best.
“Using a plastic shovel with a wider scoop is good because (it can) push away the snow quickly. But it’s not the best to get the ice off of the driveway,” one MEC employee told Daily Hive.
To remove ice, try using a flat metal shovel, which effectively chips away at the frozen stuff.
The City of Vancouver requires property owners and tenants to clear snow and ice from sidewalks that surround their property by 10 am the morning after a snowfall. The responsibility is in effect seven days a week and those who fail to do so are subject to a fine.
If you need any motivation to get out there and clear your sidewalk, just remember it’s a great winter work out. Snow shovelling can burn up to 400 calories an hour.