• By: Keith Whittier

Shovelling Your Way Through Winter: Tips on How to Do It Right!

Winter weather has officially arrived! As the snow continues to pile up, shovelling can seem like a full time job. Most of us have shoveled at some point in our Canadian lifetime, but many are unaware of the tiresome affects it can have on our bodies if done incorrectly.

Incorporating physical fitness in your weekly routine will help keep your body strong and able to easily withstand winter tasks such as shovelling. Did you know that the average shovel weighs 6 pounds? That may not seem like a lot, but if loaded with snow and lifted over-and-over, the body is put under a lot of stress.

Before you start shovelling:Shoveling snow

  1. Dress warmly and in layers: once your body warms up, you can easily shed a layer.
  2. Hydrate: Even though we don’t sweat as easily, we can still get dehydrated in the winter. The cold weather causes a decreased thirst response, so remember to drink up!
  3. Active Stretching/Warm-Up: It is a good idea to warm up your body before starting. For example, take a 5-minute brisk walk around the block before embarking on your snow mountain.
  4. Don’t let the snow Pile up: The less snow you have to shovel, the better.

Proper Shovelling Techniques:

  1. Use a lightweight shovel: you want a shovel that you can push. Metal shovels are heavy and snow tends to stick to them.
  2. Push, don’t lift! : Push the snow forward and to the sides. Trying to pick up and throw a heavy pile of snow can be dangerous. Pushing will minimize the amount of bending and twisting your back has to do. If you must pick up the shovel, make sure you are bending your knees to take stress off your joints.
  3. Switch Sides: Switching from a left handed grip to a right handed grip will prevent one sided muscle fatigue.
  4. Take a Break: Regular breaks will prevent your body from getting too tired and prevent next day soreness.
  5. Cool Down: do a similar cool down as you did warm up. Another short walk around the block is a great idea.