While the woodchuck glances at the white lacy curtain that separates it from its yearly pronouncement; while town plows relentlessly clear the roads so that business may go on as usual; while bankers show up for banking and restaurateurs to provide warm fare for skiers, tourists, businessmen and women, many emerge bravely from the warmth of their homes to join in the shovel brandishing dance.
Shoveling is an invigorating activity, but it requires some weight-bearing twists that can lead to injury even for the pro athlete. “Posture and form! Proper posture and form!” might shout a professional trainer.
Keeping the path to your front door free of obstacles, even the fluffy, white kind, is essential if you are expecting visitors, such as when your home is on the market during the winter months, but also merely to ensure easy access to emergency services should you happen to require their assistance. So imagine a mitten and tuque clad personal shoveling coach at your side as you labor to clear the way. What might he be shouting over your shoulder?
- Be mindful of pre-existing conditions and do not hesitate to ask for help.
- Make it easy on your back; avoid lifting the snow, push it instead.
- If you must lift, take “small bites” – This is not about impressing the neighbors!
- If you must lift, stand firmly with your feet hip-distance apart, keep the shovel close to your body (do not reach away) and remember to bend from the knees, not the back or torso.
- Only movie and cartoon characters toss snow over their shoulder – Always toss in front of you. If you need to toss to the side, move your feet to face the same direction as the shovel.
- Distance between your hands will increase your leverage and reduce the strain on your back. 12 inches is good.
Finally, if there is one mantra your imaginary shoveling coach might insist on, it is this one: “Piecemeal! Piecemeal!” This is not only easier on your body, it may also turn an apparently dreadful chore into a rather pleasant and invigorating exercise you will not mind repeating… Well, at least once in a while and not all year thank you very much!