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Safety First: Safe Snow Shoveling Techniques

Living in Wyoming, snow shoveling is a part of our lives. But understanding the strain that can place on different systems of our bodies, particularly the cardiac and skeletal and muscle groups located in the back, can help us to avoid injury and the likelihood of a medical emergency. We've outlined below 4 tips to keep in mind when tackling your drive, sidewalks, or helping others in your neighborhood!

1.) Stretch and Warm Up:

It isn't just a myth that many people get injured from the simple act of shoveling snow. In fact, according to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, there are more than 11,000 medical emergencies each year related to shoveling snow. Before any good workout, stretch your muscles and increase blood flow especially those areas you are going to be using the most. Focus on your legs, your back, your arms and chest. Do side stretches, forward bends, front hangs, squats and calf stretches before proceeding outside. Snow shoveling is a workout, best be prepared!

2.) Bend and Lift With Your Knees, Not Your Back:

You're moving some weight when you snow shovel, and over time that weight adds up. If you keep bending at your back versus your knees this puts considerable strain on your lower back muscles and could mean that you spend time laid up on the sofa versus out enjoying the return of beautiful weather. There are also newer model snow shovels that allow you to push the snow versus having to lift continuously, if you have back concerns headed into expected snowy conditions you may want to check your local hardware store for various models.

3.) Take it in Manageable Segments As Much As Possible:

Make a plan for how to attack your walk, your drive or even helping the neighbors. You can even work in a wind break or two that will hopefully keep you from having to repeat the process in a few hours. Work through it in easy manageable chunks and don't be afraid or hesitate to take breaks if you feel out of breath. Take time for water breaks or if it's especially cold or windy to come in to warm up for a bit.

4.) Make it a Team Effort:

While snow shoveling is often the responsibility of one person or another in each home, by working together you can get more accomplished in a short amount of time. Also don't hesitate to ask for assistance if you feel worn out, tired or are experiencing muscle tightness or soreness. Living in a smaller town in Wyoming there are some benefits that go with it. One of those is a tight knit community where we often know and help our neighbors. It isn't uncommon to see neighbor helping neighbor when we get some accumulated snow in the region. If you can help others, of course always make the offer.

Have other ideas or ways to help manage the workload? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page to help others in our community. And of course stay safe out there!