Safety Tips when Shoveling Snow
The snow has officially arrived in Michigan, with today being our biggest hit yet! Here at Reforming Foundations, our physical therapists have some tips to help stay safe while you shovel:
1. Engage your core!
Imagine your favorite RF instructor telling you to co-contract, draw your belly-button to your spine, lift from your pelvic floor, gather your waistline…you get the idea…
2. Push when you can.
Leave the tip of the shovel on the ground, support the handle against the front of your body, then walk forward to push the snow. This works great on a smooth sidewalk or driveway.
3. Save your spine, use your legs.
It’s time for that squat you learned in class. Spine neutral, core engaged, one foot slightly in front. Hinge at the hips and knees without rounding your spine. Fill the shovel and toss (see #4) or stand up to lift.
4. Don’t twist when you toss.
Need to toss some snow off to the side? You can turn your whole body from the feet up, or use the strength of your arms to aim your toss to one side or the other, but try not to twist your spine.
Have a history of heart disease? Think twice before you pick up that shovel! Studies have shown that the hearts of healthy adults work as hard when shoveling snow as they do when working at their maximal ability on a treadmill or arm bicycle (Franklin et al, 1995). This heavy work plus the narrowing of blood vessels from the cold can be a dangerous combo for someone with heart disease. Talk with your doctor or visit https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/12/11/cold-heart-facts-why-you-need-to-watch-out-in-winter for more info!
Stay Safe and Keep Moving!