I rarely shovel snow anymore; I generally leave the task to my husband, or like our city, rely on Chinooks (a weather phenomenon: http://www.theweathernetwork.com/index.php?product=glossary&pagecontent=glossaryindex&pagecontent=chinook) to do it for me. We also have neighborhood kids that come around and offer to shovel for $5.00. Works for me.
Here are some tips for shoveling snow that are useful for all who shovel, chronic pain or not. I asked my friend Patti at http://calgaryoccupationaltherapist.ca/ to help with some tips; she contributed most of these.
- take frequent breaks
- use a snow blower if you can afford one
- schedule a time for shoveling when you have time to rest following the activity
- delegate when possible or hire someone if you can afford to
- stretch before shoveling – warm up the muscles
- practice pushing light amounts of snow first to warm up
- choose the right shovel for you, i.e. choosing too a shovel that is too big may result in you having to push and lift too much snow at a time; too small a shovel will make the job take much longer
- wear appropriate footwear that provides good grip and support – you don’t want to slip
- use a broad grasp on the shovel with your hands shoulder width apart
- add sand or salt to increase speed of melting or to provide extra traction
- use your leg muscles and bend at the knees rather than mostly using your back muscles
- avoid twisting when tossing the snow; position yourself so you toss the snow straight in front of you
My tip? Move to a locale where you never have to shovel snow again.