If your thinking you don’t have to read this because “I have a snow blower”, you’re not in the clear just yet! So there’s a storm, and you have to shovel, let these three tips help you prevent any aches and pains that you may encounter during or after the task.
1) Warm-Up Before Going Out
Take about 10 minutes and lightly stretch out the upper and lower body: Hamstring, low back, abs, hips, shoulders and neck should all be stretched. After a set of light static stretching, try a dynamic set of stretches like jumping jacks, running in one spot, forward and rear shoulder shrugs, and body squats.
2) Keep it Close and Breathe
When shovelling, keep the shovel close to your body. Have a tight grip and bend and lift with your knees and hips, not your back! If you start feeling that your back is getting sore, or tired, stop, take a breath and think what part of the body your are using when tossing that snow! Try to feel your knees and hips doing most of the work. Mind the way you’re breathing…tighten that abdominal core by breathing deep, creating a braced-like feeling. This brace helps keep those muscles tight and will allow you to rotate with less pressure on the low back.
3) Have a Plan and Take your Time
Don’t just go in without a strategy. Shovel with some intention, understand the dimensions of the driveway you’re about to shovel. If its near a sidewalk, you may want to start from there. Or if there is layers of snow, try shovelling off a layer first, then the second layer a bit later. That brings me to my next point, take breaks, take shifts, and don’t do it all in one shot! You’re more than likely to get injured when you are tired and your muscles are fatigued.
Remember to listen to your body, if it wants to stop, just stop…you will thank yourself you did!
Good luck and Shovel Safe!
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Dr. Nourus Yacoub