In New York, it’s inevitable-you will eventually have to shovel some snow. Whether it is your whole driveway or a small patch of your walkway, it is important that you take precautions to shovel with good form to prevent injury. All of us at Reddy-Care Physical Therapy want to keep you healthy and injury free, so you can enjoy your winter. Here are some tips and techniques that you should keep in mind before you head out after a snowfall.

Choose your weapon wisely:

Before you start, it’s important you have the right tool for the job. A proper snow shovel can rid you of extra, unnecessary effort. A good shovel will have an ergonomic design — a slightly curved handle or an adjustable handle length. This will minimize bending of the back, which can cause painful back injuries. A shovel with a proper handle will only require you to bend your knees slightly while keeping the shovel on the ground. When it comes to size, remember that heavier shovels don’t always mean better. You’ll want a shovel with a lightweight, plastic blade to reduce the weight you are moving.

Warm up your muscles:

Like with any other exercise, you’ll want to warm up thoroughly before you start shoveling. Muscles are more prone to injury if they are tight and cold. Marching in place or going for a brisk walk can get your muscles loose and warmed up enough to help prevent injury. It is also important to stretch your lower back, shoulders and arms.

Shovel smart:

Once you start shoveling, make sure you are using a proper technique. Start with small amounts of snow and try to push the snow as much as possible, instead of lifting. Be mindful of where you want the snow to go before you start, as to not add more work at the end. You don’t want to spend an hour clearing your driveway to realize you covered a sidewalk or a path for your car. As you are shoveling, make sure you squat at the knees, instead of bending down with your back. Keep your back straight and lift the weight of the snow with your legs. If you need to turn to put the snow where you want it, turn with your whole body and not just with your waist, and NEVER throw weight over your shoulder that is the easiest way to injure yourself!

Slow and steady wins the race:

If you know you are getting significant snowfall in your area, allow yourself enough time to get the job done. Rushing it will many times result in poor form, which leads to injuries. Take breaks as often as possible and do not exert yourself. If at all possible, use or borrow a snow blower.

Reddy-Care Physical Therapy wants you to stay safe and injury free this winter after each and every snowfall. If you have any pain or have injured yourself, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 516-829-0030.

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