Smart Shovelling

ImageWith the first dusting of snow upon us and the reminder that winter on its way, we thought it would be a good time to talk about snow shovelling safety.  Improper snow shovelling technique can place you at an increased risk for injuries ranging from sprains and strains to significant back injuries. It is always important to put safety first and take the necessary precautions to prevent hurting yourself.

Here are some things you should do:

1. Assess your health: Are you feeling under the weather? Do you have any issues with your heart such as heart disease, history of heart attack or high blood pressure? Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle? Although it may not seem like it, shovelling is a physically challenging activity. If you are unsure if it is safe for you to shovel, consult with your family physician.

2. Warm up: Before you start shoveling walk or march in place to warm up your muscles. It is also important to stretch before and after shovelling to help prevent injury.

3. Dress appropriately: Make sure you dress in layers to stay warm but are still able to bend your knees and arms without restriction. Ensure you are wearing boots with good treads to prevent slips and falls.

4. Drink water: Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water before and after shovelling.

5. Use a good shovel: An ergonomically designed shovel with a curved handle will help to prevent fatigue and injury. Your shovel should be sturdy but light weight.

6. Take breaks: Don’t push yourself to fatigue. Try shovelling for 5-7 minute then take a 2-3 minute break. Take longer and/or more frequent breaks if necessary.

Proper Shovelling Technique:

1. Always try to push snow instead of lifting it

2. Stand with feet hip width apart

3. Hold shovel close to your body

4. Bend from your knees not from your back

5. Tighten your core muscles when lifting snow

6. Do not twist at the waist. Always point your toes in the direction you are pushing, lifting or throwing the snow.

Stay Safe:

Shovelling snow is a strenuous activity that forces your heart to work very hard. It is important that you monitor the following warning signs: discomfort or heaviness in your chest, arms or neck, feelings of dizziness, nausea or faintness, unusually long period of shortness of breath, and excessive sweating. If you experience any of these symptoms take a break. If you still feel unwell after a rest, or suspect a medical problem, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Happy Shovelling!



4 Exercises You Can Do at Work

Many Canadians spend the majority of the work day sitting at a desk. Although sitting may not seem like a high risk activity, sedentary jobs can have a negative impact on overall health. These types of jobs contribute to obesity and can lead to various other health issues such as tendonitis and neck and back strain injuries. Fortunately, there is something you can do. Here are 5 exercises that you can do at work to help keep you active, healthy and injury free at work.

1. Stretch

Stretching regularly will help to decrease tension and tightness in your muscles. Here are 10 simple stretches you can do at your desk. Try to perform a few of these stretches, 3-4 times a day. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Stretching should be pain free. (If any of these stretches cause pain, numbness or tingling, contact a health care professional)

2. Strengthen Muscles

-Glute squeeze: while sitting at your desk, tighten your buttocks, hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times

-Heel raises: if you are taking a standing break, raise up on the balls of your feet by lifting your heels off the ground. Repeat 20 times

-Chair Squat:  without using your hands stand up and sit back down in your chair. Repeat 10 times

-Leg raises: When sitting, tighten your thigh muscle and kick your leg out straight. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 20 times.

3. Stand Up

Every 15-20 minutes, take a break and stand up. Standing helps to improve circulation and posture, relieves stress and can decrease low back pain.

4. Go for a Walk

On your lunch break, go for a walk. Walking for just 10 minutes can help to control blood sugar and cholesterol, burn fat, increase energy and decrease stress. If possible, change into walking shoes to ensure your feet are well supported.