There is no denying that winter is here and the number of shoulder and back injuries are on the rise with all the shovelling that is hard to avoid! The best way to keep that upper body safe and sound is to learn proper posture and good lifting techniques.

Listed below are a few techniques to help keep pain at bay:

1. As with any strenuous exercises it is important to warm up muscles with light stretching and gentle movements

2. Picking the right shovel is of utmost importance. Your shovel should be lightweight, chest height when standing, have a D shaped handle and a curved shaft.

3. Pushing the snow as much as possible will be easiest on your body as long as you are not slouching as you push

4. If you must lift the snow use these lifting tips:

· Have a wide stance for a good base of support. Put your weight on the leg closer to the shovel to push the shovel straight ahead.

· Shift weight to rear leg and lift using legs and arms. Do not lift with your back. Bending at the hips is sure to be followed by back pain.

· Keep the weighted shovel close to your body.

· Turn feet towards the direction you wish to throw the snow and pivot the entire body instead of twisting at the waist.

· Making sure shoulders are set with an open chest and shoulder blades pulled back before lifting will keep that shoulder joint in its strongest position.

Take your time while shovelling especially if you have a heart condition or your cardiovascular health is not within the norms. Wearing the proper gear is also important such as: good winter boots with adequate grip, moisture wicking base layers to keep you warm and dry, gloves, toque and face warmer for colder temperatures are all items to have close by during the winter months.