Winter is Coming. The Wellness Path: Part II

Winter is Coming

Expanded From the Winter 2018 KIP newsletter,

There will be a lot of snow out there this winter and we all hate shoveling it and we all want to remove it ASAP. Canadian Tire has even redesigned the shovel in order to help us with this task!

Even with the ergonomic improvements of the shovel, this still creates a tremendous amount of strain, stress and exertion on the human body.

No Laughing Matter: The Widow-maker

This is no joke. I have witnessed cardiovascular tragedy because of someone shoveling too much snow. Here’s the story:

I was living in a Condominium/Townhouse complex where the monthly fees that are paid deliver seasonal services such lawn-cutting and snowplowing. It was a winter day. There had been a significant snowfall the night before and, of course, the snow plows were out.

Sure enough, after getting home from work I hear a half-ton truck coming down the lane way with a blade on the front pushing snow. A couple of minutes later I hear the same truck idling in the lane way near the house. I take a peek out the window and there’s the snowplow guy using a snow shovel clearing out snow from around the speed bumps in the lane way.

No big deal, right?

30 seconds after sitting back down, I hear some loud voices and then a woman screamed. I get up and look out the window there’s the snowplow guy laying spread-eagled in a snow bank and his face was the most livid color of purple I had ever seen.

Call 911 for Emergencies

Emergency services had been called and it turned out he suffered a massive heart-attack and EMT’s couldn’t revive him. Ever since then I have been very cognizant of pacing while shoveling snow (or anything for that mater!!).

Then I got into martial arts and became even more aware of bio-mechanical and breathing techniques while exerting yourself. You’ll also find Safe-Lifting techniques in your Workplace Safety Standards align very well with these same ideas.

Here are 3 tips:

  1. Lift With Your Legs. If you find yourself bent over and your legs are straight, it’s because you are tired. Take a break. It is way too easy to strain your back or rupture a disk, or worse.
  2. Take Smaller Bites. Snow shovels can carry a lot of snow. That doesn’t mean we have to maximize the capacity. Slow down. I promise, there will be more snow.
  3. Breathe. For some strange reason, a lot of people hold their breath when they are exerting themselves even going up the stairs. If there’s one thing I have learned in Martial Arts, it’s the human body needs oxygen to operate properly. I blame stress.
  4. Shameless Plug. Tai Chi Chuan is an excellent study of bio-mechanical principles. I have a Saturday Morning class at the Gerry Masterson Community Centre in Thurlow Ward, Belleville ON. Class starts at 10am. Hopefully, more to announce on this soon.



Sensei Jim

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