Snow Shovel Safety

Injury Prevention Tips

We’ve had a lot of snow in Michigan this winter. In some areas we’ve actually received more than twice as much as the yearly average. Unfortunately, we’re now seeing an increasingly high number of injuries in many of our urgent care facilities due to improper shoveling techniques.

Spring isn’t too far away, but with the potential for one or two more heavy snow falls, here are five tips to keep you safe and prevent injury:

1. Warm Up Your Muscles Before digging in, start with a few basic stretches and exercises to warm up your muscles.

2. Dress Appropriately It’s important to wear layers and make sure you are wearing clothes that breathe. Wear a hat to keep your head warm and eliminate excess heat loss. Also, cover your hands with gloves or mittens and make sure you’re wearing warm, thick socks. Avoid falling by choosing slip-resistant boots or shoes.

3. Pace Yourself Shoveling snow is hard work and considered an aerobic activity. Take frequent breaks and if you start to have chest pain, experience shortness of breath, or dizziness, or any other signs of a heart attack then stop shoveling and call 911.

4. The Right Equipment Snow throwers are a great investment, but if you opt for a shovel then make sure you pick one that is right for you. Not too long and not too short. Look for one with an ergonomic handle or adjustable length handle to prevent extra strain on your lower back. Avoid steel as they can be too heavy. A lightweight plastic handle will reduce the amount of weight that you’re lifting.

5. Proper Technique Try to push the snow instead of throwing it over your shoulder. The twisting motion can put added strain on your back. Proper lifting techniques are important. Remember to bend at the knees and lift with your leg muscles while keeping your back straight. Keep your loads light and try not to lift loads that are too heavy for you.

Summer will be here before you know it! In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the little bit of winter that we have left. Happy Shoveling!

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