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Shoveling snow; a health hazard or a safe physical activity?
Winter has arrived; some people will say too soon, while others are ecstatic. With February-like weather in November, we might be looking ahead to a longer winter than what we’re accustomed too. Shoveling snow will become part of our regular routine for the next several months. Should we be looking forward to it or concerned (i.e. pain)?
Shoveling is certainly a type of exercise that requires some physical strength and cardiovascular stamina. Like other sports, a certain level of fitness and good form are required to minimize the health risks and injuries.
The action of shoveling necessitates upper body strength to lift the snow filled shovel (heavier with wet snow). If you’re in good health you should not fear shoveling, and maybe look forward to getting your daily dose of exercise. However, if you have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular/pulmonary condition you will want to take precautions with shoveling. Here are a few tips to reduce the stress on your cardiovascular/pulmonary systems:
How about the risk of injury? As with most activities and sports, there is a risk of (re)injury with shoveling. We see frequently patients come in for shoulder, back, elbow and neck injuries from shoveling. Not to mention other types of injuries from falls. Here are a few suggestions for you to minimize the risk of injury:
If you are already dealing with pain and physical limitations, you may want to get your injury looked at by one of our physiotherapists to avoid flare ups during the winter season. And if you’re fortunate to be healthy, hopefully these tips will help you stay that way. Don’t hesitate to consult with your physician if you believe you may be at risk of heart issues.
Shoveling snow is inevitable just like winters in Canada so we might as well enjoy it and have fun, but most importantly be safe!
|Author- Marco is a physiotherapist with a career extending over 21 years. His main clinical interest is the treatment of back pain. He completed his Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) at Université Laval (Quebec City) in 1996 and his Masters of Clinical Science (Manipulative Therapy) in 2009 at Western University (London, Ontario). He became a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) in 2009. His treatment philosophy is to empower his patients so that they become self-reliant mostly thru education and active rehab program. "Exercise is the best remedy."|