Winter is here and so is the snow….Already!!!

We might not be used to an Ottawa winter starting in November but the snow shovelling season has begun.  Many people suffer from muscle fatigue, low back strain, vertebral disc damage and even spinal fractures during the winter months. These injuries can be brought on by excessive stress to the spine and slip and fall accidents. Injuries are not only limited to the musculoskeletal system but it also places stress on the cardiovascular system. At any hint of shortness of breath or chest pain, shoveling should be stopped immediately.


Here are some tips to stay injury free this winter:

    • Be heart smart(avoid caffeine/food directly before shovelling as these increase the heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict)


    • If experiencing any bit of pain, stop immediately and seek assistance.


    • Pace yourself / Take breaks / Drink water


    • If the ground is icy or slick, spread salt or sand to create traction


    • Wear layers


    • Wear a hat(most of body heat is lost through the head)


    • Proper boots are essential(can help you keep your balance)


    • Choose a shovel that is ergonomically correct(shovel with a curved handle to reduce spinal stress)


    • Consider a shovel with a plastic blade(lighter weight)


    • Smaller is better when it comes to shovels(less strain on the body)


  • Get a shovel to push snow(pushing snow is easier then lifting it)


1) Warm up your muscles (march on the spot, reach up/down, side to side, arm circles and squats)

2) Hand placement on the shovel (create distance between your hands to give you more leverage.)

3) Think about good posture (maintaining the natural curve in the spine and head looking forward instead of down at the snow)

4) Focus on what your doing (feet shoulder width distance apart to maintain balance. Bend at the knees and NOT at the waist. Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift snow. Do not twist your body. Try to dump the snow directly in front of you.)

5) Pace yourself  (slow and steady is better then fast and injured)

** Fresh snow is lighter so clear it as soon as you can. A shovel full of dense wet snow can weigh over 20lbs.





Brought to you by Brittany Pastorek RMT