Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Why shovel your sidewalks?

 


Snow and ice create a hazardous situation for everyone but especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Shoveling and using salt, sand or other substances with ice melting properties will help reduce the potential for slip and fall incidents, which can and do cause serious injuries.

Safe snow shoveling requires proper preparation, the right tools, good technique and knowledge.

PREPARATION

Talk to your doctor about this activity and your health status before winter season arrives.

THINK TWICE IF YOU:

-have had a heart attack or have other forms of heart disease

-have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels

-are a smoker

-lead a sedentary lifestyle

Consider hiring a student or using a volunteer service if you are a senior.

Shovel at least 1-2 hours after eating and avoid caffeine and nicotine.

Warm up first (walk or march in place for several minutes before beginning).

Start slow and continue at a slow pace (Suggestion: shovel for 5-7 minutes and rest 2-3 minutes).

Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.

SHOVEL EARLY AND OFTEN:

-new snow is lighter than heavily packed/partially melted snow

-take frequent breaks

TOOLS

Shovel:

-sturdy yet lightweight is best (a small plastic blade is better than a large metal blade)

-an ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue

-spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant (snow does not stick and slides off)

CLOTHING:

-wear multiple layers and cover as much skin as possible

-wear a hat and scarf (make sure neither block your vision)

-wear mittens (tend to be warmer than gloves)

-wear boots with non-skid/no-slip rubber soles

TECHNIQUE

Always try to push snow rather than lifting it.

Protect your back by lifting properly and safely:

-stand with feet at hip width for balance

-hold the shovel close to your body

-space hands apart to increase leverage

-bend from your knees not your back

-tighten your stomach muscles while lifting

-avoid twisting while lifting

-walk to dump snow rather than throwing it

When snow is deep, shovel small amounts (1-2 inches at a time) at a time.

If the ground is icy or slippery, spread salt, sand or kitty litter to create better foot traction.

KNOWLEDGE

• Shoveling snow is strenuous activity that is very stressful on the heart.

• Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to frostbite, injury and hypothermia.

• Stop shoveling and call 911 if you have:

-discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arms or neck

-unusual or prolonged shortness of breath

-a dizzy or faint feeling

-excessive sweating or nausea and vomiting

WATCH YOUR TECHNIQUE

The most important element of shoveling snow is proper mechanics. By keeping your snow loads light and utilizing leverage, you’ll be able to avoid injury and get a little cardio workout. Here are a few tips on technique:

-When you shovel snow, pace yourself very carefully and realize it takes longer than you think.

-Shovel smaller loads than you think you should. Limit how much snow you lift and how far you throw it.

-Hold the shovel evenly and close to your body.

-Use your knees as much as possible and distribute the stress as much as possible.

-Avoid any sudden or violent moves. Work smoothly.

-Take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated.

-Wear protective gloves and boots to avoid blistering.

WARM UP BEFORE SHOVELING IN THE COLD

Shoveling snow is an amazing total-body workout. To reap those benefits, you need to take the necessary precautions, including these pre-shoveling stretches.

• Squats. Spread your feet about 2 to 3 feet apart and sit back into a squat. Make sure your weight is in your heels. Do this for about 45 seconds.

• Toe Touches. Spread your feet about 2 to 3 feet apart, and with a slight bend in the knees, reach from the ceiling and then for your toes, inhaling as you stand up each time. Do these with control for about 45 seconds.

• Torso Rotations. Hold the shovel in front of you and gently twist from side to side for about 45 seconds. Allow your feet to maneuver with the rotation.

 

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