We had another storm again and it dumped a few inches of snow on the ground. I woke up and looked outside to see a blanket of white covering everything.
My wife and children looked out and saw a glorious winter wonderland. I saw back-breaking labor and an application of Icy Hot in my future. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, and I actually have to worry about things like hurting my back (oh, the joys of getting older), and you should, too. Here are some of the common problems people are hit with while shoveling snow and how to best handle them.
1. Back breaker: Ugh, every time I shovel snow, my back ends up sore for at least the day. It doesn’t seem to matter if it was a 2-inch snowfall or 10-inch, my back feels it. Before you head out, try and stretch out your back as best you can. Get those muscles loosened up so you can minimize injury. You can also use an ergonomic shovel that is made to be a bit easier on your back.
Try to push as much snow as you can, as opposed to throwing it with the shovel. Picking up the snow-laden shovel can easily pull a muscle in your back, especially if it is the wet, heavy snow. It may not seem like much, but snow can be heavy if it is packed together. When it’s all said and done, don’t forget to put some Icy Hot or other ointment on, as well as a pain reliever like ibuprofen.
2. Overexertion: This is primarily an issue with older people and those who are very much out of shape. If you do not get much physical activity, then shoveling the snow can be like running a marathon. Your body can easily be fooled into thinking its not doing to much work, because the cold weather will keep you from sweating a lot, but when you stop, you will feel your heart pounding in your chest. There are many people who suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow.
The best way to beat overexertion is to take your time and to take plenty of breaks. The snow is not going anywhere, so it won’t hurt to work for 10 minutes and then take a break, work 10 more minutes and then take another break. This simple act could save you a major medical problem. If you get winded and your chest hurts when shoveling snow, then it’s a good idea to see your doctor to make sure you don’t have any heart problems.
3. Motivation: I hate shoveling snow. When I see that white on the ground, I am immediately in a bad mood. It’s easy to say to yourself, “Why even bother? It’s just going to come back in a day or two with the next snow storm.” As much as I wish that I could leave the snow where it lays, it’s not just my problem. Sidewalks are public walkways, and often school children use it when walking to and from school or the bus stop. I don’t want to responsible for a child being late because he had to trudge across my snow-covered sidewalk or fall down and become injured. If you hate it so much that you can’t even bring yourself to do it, then hire a local child to shovel it for you. I have three boys, and when they get a little older, I can guarantee you that snow-shoveling will be a family affair.
No one likes to shovel snow, but it is one of the necessities of life when you live in the arctic tundra of the Midwest and other areas. Follow these tips and make sure to stay safe.
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