Snow Shoveling tips!
It’s that time of year again! ‘Tis the season to celebrate family, friends, good food, and getting cozy in your jammies. Unfortunately, it is also time for shoveling snow. Here are some tips to help keep your body feeling good and injury free.
- Warm up before you shovel!
- Often times, many are doing this first thing early in the morning before they’ve even had a cup of coffee! This is when your body is likely to be the stiffest it will be all day, and thus you are more likely to sustain injury. Not moving all night then jumping right into bending and lifting heavy loads of snow is not a good idea.
- SOLUTION: Spend 5 minutes warming your body up. Here’s a quick sequence to try:
- Start standing with your arms spread wide and feet hip width apart. Open your arms as wide as you can stretching your chest, then give yourself a hug. Repeat 10x swinging back and forth between positions.
- Reach up towards the ceiling with one arm and lean over making your body into a “C”. Repeat each side 5x.
- Spread your arms wide again and rotate to each side 10x.
- Prop your foot on a bench or chair while holding on for balance, lean forward with a straight back until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold 10 sec and repeat on each side 10x.
- Place your hands on the counter or a sturdy surface, walk back leaning your body forward from the waist keeping your back flat to stretch your hamstrings and shoulders. Hold 10 seconds and repeat 10x.
- Use good body mechanics
- Poor body mechanics will place more stress on your lower back and shoulders while underutilizing bigger, more efficient muscle groups.
- SOLUTION: Feet should be staggered with the foot forward opposite from the hand on the handle of the shovel. The hand of the same side as your forward foot should be farther down the shaft. Keep your shoulders back and chest forward to avoid rounding your back. Brace your abdominals and lift with your legs, not your back. If you feel your back getting stiff. Stand up straight, put your hands at the small of your back and lean backwards.
- Work smarter, not harder
- It is not always more efficient to get the maximum amount of snow on the shovel. This will not only increase your risk of injury, but it may also slow down your pace to accomplish the task at hand.
- SOLUTION: Use the shovel to push snow when your can. Pick up smaller, lighter loads and minimize how far you carry snow on the shovel. Switch sides/hands every 1-2 minutes.
Of course, we are always here for you if despite these tips you experience any musculoskeletal discomfort relating to winter activities. Don’t forget that typically the sooner you address it, the sooner you can be on your path to recovery, and all you need to do is pick up the phone and call us! Hope you all are enjoying this holiday season. Happy December!
Kali Spoto LaRue, DPT, OCS