Snow shoveling is physically demanding work and can be relentless during the Canadian winter months. During the winter season, snow clearing is a common and necessary part of most people’s daily routine. For instance, on a morning when it snowed over night, you would get up earlier than normal, get yourself and everyone else ready, eat breakfast, pack up a lunch for the kids and then head outside to dig out your car. However, if snow shoveling is done incorrectly, it can lead to slips, falls and muscle strains. Shoveling is so hard on the body because it requires a high-level of simultaneous exertion from the legs, arms and back.
Not only is shoveling a physically demanding task but because of the freezing temperatures, the body automatically constricts its blood vessels to keep the body warm which places additional stress on the cardiovascular system. As a result, snow shoveling is also associated with an increase in incidences of anginas, heart attacks and sudden cardiac death because of the demand placed on the cardiovascular system (Watson, Shields & Smith, 2011). People who live sedentary lives struggle with snow clearing because since it only snows one season of the year, their bodies cannot become accustomed to it in such a short amount of time.
General Tips for Snow Shoveling:
- CHECK WITH A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: Sedentary individuals or those with pre-existing medical conditions should consider hiring somebody to shovel for them. Ask your doctor or physiotherapist before shoveling if you have any doubts.
- WARM-UP: Before shoveling, take a brisk walk around the block to warm-up the body. It is also a good idea to rehearse the movements you will be doing such as squatting and lifting.
- WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING: While shoveling, dress for the weather. Wear light and layered clothing so in case you get warm, layers can easily be taken off. It is important that the outer layer is water repellant to avoid getting wet and lowering your body temperature. Wear appropriate hats, gloves and scarves and ensure boots or shoes have slip resistant soles to avoid falls.
- START EARLY: Shovel throughout the snowfall instead of shoveling a large amount when the snowing has stopped. Shovel while the snow is still light and fluffy; the longer you leave it, the denser and heavier it gets which makes shoveling much more difficult.