Over the last few days, I have had more than one person from one of my senior programs who disclosed to me that they hurt themselves while shovelling snow.  I live in Toronto, so we have had more snow this winter than the last few years, making shovelling more prevalent.  Despite the fact that the injuries picked up from the people in my class were not as serious as cases like those who have died from heart attacks while shovelling snow; the reasons they suffered may be similar.  Here are my three ways seniors can avoid injury from snow shovelling.

  1. Warm-up- I know this may sound crazy, but snow shovelling is exercise. At the time of snow shovelling, I believe many people hurt themselves because they don’t warm up. When I train someone, the main reason we spend the first 5 or 10 minutes warming up is, the person will perform better and will reduce the likelihood that they will get hurt. An excellent way to warm up for snow shovelling would be to do some light arms swings across your body, small hip rotations (think of hula hooping) and some small knee bends/squats to get the lower warmed up
  2. Watch Form And Avoid Too Much Rotation- The main areas that I have found that people have hurt themselves is that snow shovelling has been their neck, shoulder, and back. I would say the three reasons are the weight they are trying to lift is too heavy, they probably don’t have good form, or rotate their body too much. Yes, I know that a shovel half filled with snow will take you bit longer to finish the job, but you may save yourself from getting hurt.  Also for people who have Osteoporosis, the rotation isn’t good for your spine.
  3. Switch Sides- If you have ever heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, you know that it is an overuse injury.  If you have a lot of snow to clear, try switching the side you shovel on.  Switching shovelling sides will give the two sides of your body a good workout rather than overusing one side and possibly hurting yourself.
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