Safety First:

In Canada we get a lot of snow throughout the country.  As for any yard maintenance job, priority #1 in snow shoveling is safety, followed closely by comfort and efficiency. Consider doing the following before you even step outside:

  1. Stretch your muscles to prevent injury.
  2. Dress in layers to stay warm.
  3. Vow to take breaks: continuous snow shoveling can prove hazardous to the health of those not-such-great shape.
  4. “Wax” your shovel blade, making it slippery and thereby preventing snow from sticking to it. Although candle wax, floor wax, or car wax may be used, Pam spray works fine, too.

How dangerous is shoveling snow?

Shoveling, even pushing a heavy snow blower, can cause sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and the cold air can cause constriction of the blood vessel and decrease oxygen to the heart. All these work in concert to increase the work of the heart and trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.

Guidelines for safe snow shoveling:

Do:

  1. Wear the appropriate clothing and footwear (non-slipping) for the weather conditions
  2. If possible, inform someone that you will be doing snow removal
  3. Visually inspect the shovel for wear and tear, and if more than one shovel is available, find the one that meets both your needs and that of the task at hand (i.e., smaller faced shovels used for lifting or moving heavy, wet snow)
  4. Take smaller steps when both shoveling and walking
  5. Push or shovel only manageable amounts of snow
  6. Use your legs – and not your back, when lifting snow
  7. Shovel snow into piles at a close distance to your body
  8. Spread either salt, sand or some other traction substance on the cleared area to reduce ice formation and potential slips, trips and falls
  9. Return shovels to their original locations when finished shoveling
  10. Inform supervisor of any outstanding snow or ice conditions not attended to

Do Not:

  1. Do not twist or strain when carrying a load of snow in your shovel
  2. Do not block ramps or exits when shoveling
  3. Do not use an underhand grip position with the shovel, as this can potentially weaken or injure your wrist when shoveling
  4. Do not overdo it – if you feel yourself getting sore, tired or too cold, trade off with someone else or take a break

General:

Is snow shoveling cardio?

Not to worry as you can count snow shoveling and snow blowing as a workout. Shoveling snow will work your upper body (chest, shoulders, arms, and back), lower body (quads, hamstrings and glutes), and it’s a no brainer that your core will be engaged. Furthermore, you’ll also get the benefits of cardiovascular training.

Snow shoveling isn’t fun, but it’s often unavoidable. In areas where snow is no stranger, it’s ill-advised to allow even the most meager snowfall to go un-shoveled in your driveway, lest it later melt and refreeze. The resulting sheet of ice becomes a slipping hazard. While you can apply ice-melt products to it after the fact, why waste the money?

Staying Safe and Proper Shoveling Technique

The stretching you had you do above is just step #1 in snow shoveling the safe way. Once you step outside and start wielding your shovel, remember the following:

  1. Bend your knees and lift with your legs.
  2. As you lift the snow, keep the shovel blade close to you, to reduce back strain.
  3. Switch off between shoveling right-handed and left-handed, so that you’re working different muscles.
  4. Periodically change your grip on the hand holding the bar (palm under vs. palm over).
  5. When the snowfall is heavy (1 foot in depth, let’s say), don’t try to clean right down to the ground with a single scoop. Instead, skim the top 6 inches off, then scoop up the bottom 6 inches. Otherwise, you could be hurting yourself by lifting too much.

Snow Shoveling Tips for Those Who Park in the Driveway

Save yourself some time and trouble by clearing a path to the driver’s door of your car first. Once inside start your car and turn on the defrosting mechanisms (front and back). Crank the heat full-blast, even though only cold air will come out initially (it will have a chance to warm up while you’re snow shoveling).  Be careful of the exhaust from running your vehicle.

By defrosting your windows, you make it easier to clean the snow (and ice) off them. Besides, when you’re done snow shoveling, don’t you want a nice warm car to get into?

By clearing a path to your car first, you avoid trampling down snow on the way. Trampled snow has to be removed later, anyway, and it’s tougher to remove than unpacked snow.

Have a Plan Before You Start Snow Shoveling

Leave 2 areas for last:

  1. Don’t fuss about the rest of the snow around the car just yet. More snow will accumulate there when you clean the car, so you might as well wait till then to clean up around the perimeter of the car.
  2. Hold off on snow shoveling (with any degree of thoroughness) where your driveway meets the street. As plows go by, they’ll be barricading that area with more snow. Save this area till you’re ready to pull out with your car, or till after you’ve rested up.

If you can afford the luxury of clearing a driveway in stages, that’s the way to go. If the storm’s over, divide the workload into sections; if the storms still in progress make a preliminary sweep, then go back after the storm.

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