December is only half over and the tri-state area has already been hit with four rounds of snow. If this is any indicator of how the rest of the winter is going to go, it's time to review the safest and best ways to remove snow from your driveways and sidewalks. Many see snow shoveling as good exercise; however, it can be extremely dangerous when done improperly. At the very least, the activity can cause pulled and aching muscles but, in some cases, snow shoveling can even lead to heart attacks or severe back pain.
To prepare for any additional accumulations this winter, review the below tips:
- Stretch! -- As mentioned above, snow shoveling can be great exercise. To avoid injury, it's crucial to take five minutes to thoroughly stretch your body out. Doctors suggest using the same types of stretches that runners use so that you properly wake up your hamstrings, back, and shoulders.
- Dress in Layers -- Many people think that because it is cold outside, you need to wear as many layers as possible to stay warm while you're working. Although it is true that you want to stay warm, you can actually overdo it -- you'll sweat excessively if you overdress, which is not good in freezing temperatures. Dress in loose layers that can be removed as you begin to work up a sweat.
- Clean Off Cars -- To avoid additional work, remove any snow and ice off of your car first. Speed up the process by turning your car on and blasting the heat for a few minutes -- it will make cleaning off the car that much easier.
- Plan Ahead -- Many people don't actually think about how they're going to shovel snow; they just go out and do it, which often leads to unnecessary work. In order to avoid this, decide where you are going to put the snow ahead of time and make sure to do the hardest parts first while your energy levels are still high.
- Rest, Shovel, Repeat -- You may not realize it, but as you shovel you are lifting and carrying hundreds and hundreds of pounds of snow. This job will definitely take a toll on your body, so it's important to give yourself a break. Don't expect to go out one time and get the whole job done. During breaks, be sure to hydrate with water.
- The Shovel Stance -- To avoid back pain in NYC and the surrounding areas, review the proper shovel posture. Remember to use your leg and calf muscles as much as you can. This means that when you're pushing or lifting the snow, use the bottom half of your body. When moving snow, start in a squat-like position and keep your back straight. You should also hold the shovel as close to your upper half as possible and avoid twisting the area when you throw the snow.
Don't take chances with your physical health! Reviewing these tips will help you stay safe when you have the tough task of removing snow from your sidewalks and driveway.