160221 Shoveling the snow

This was written early a few years ago but it remains pertinent today.

It has been a record year for snowfall and moving it away from the sidewalks and driveways as it continues to pile up hasn’t gotten any easier. If you are fortunate enough to have a snow plow rig then this may not be worth reading any further but if you’re using a snow blower or a shovel then it may help keep you from getting hurt.

Before shoveling your snow, make certain you are up to it, talk with your health care provider before beginning this task.

Let’s consider a few basics of clothing before we begin the actual shoveling techniques portion.

In the woods the saying is “cotton kills”. Simply put it means that cotton gets wet fast and doesn’t dry quickly, it takes away your body heat and quickly transfers it outward leaving you cold and miserable. Keep yourself dry and warm by using a manmade fiber such as that made by North Face, Patagonia or REI. Even wool is good because it keeps you warm even when wet.

Cover your head. Up to 85 percent of your body heat can be lost from an exposed head. Probably more so if you are bald so it’s important to keep it covered. Warm gloves and boots that protect your skin and keep you dry certainly can go a long ways in making a bad situation better while you shovel or snow blow.

When it gets near or below zero it’s a good idea to protect your lungs by covering up your nose and mouth with face covering apparel. A face covering helps by cutting back on the cold air entering your respiratory system. This is especially important if you are working hard and breathing fast.

Now onto the actual shoveling part of this article.

There are good and bad ways to use a shovel. A bad way is by putting too much of your back into the movement. This involves excessive bending and rounding of your lower back which can lead to pain, soreness and misery later on throughout the following few days.

The correct way to use the shovel is to first take a moderate load and then stabilize your lower back which means maintaining the normal curves and using your legs to move the snow.

When shoveling or snow blowing the more you can get your lower body into the picture the better off you’ll be. Use the shovel like this video shows:

As you start to lift up rest the elbow of the hand that is closest to the shovel end on your forward hip. Using this as the fulcrum point push down on the handle and tip the end of the shovel upward and away to the place you want the snow to end up at. Twist at the hips and move the snow efficiently and safely.

When using your snow blower, push with your upper legs. Just put them against the handle and push away to your hearts content. This takes a lot of the effort off of your arms, lower back and upper torso and puts it into your strong lower body.

Go at a steady pace and rest when necessary. It doesn’t have to get done in a flash. Avoid getting sweaty as this rapidly takes away your body heat and makes you shivering cold.

If you are not physically up to the task it may be better to pay someone else to do it for you.

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