When you live in the Northeast, you inevitably have to shovel snow. Armed with your trusty shovel, you are in for at least 10-40 minutes of exercise if you have plans to go anywhere. Now, this can be back-breaking work if not done correctly and many people do not shovel correctly. Here are some tips to save your back!
1. Find the right snow shovel.
Yes, any shovel will do to remove snow but if you want to save yourself some back pain, pick a shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable length handle. You want to find something that will eliminate that hunched, bent-over position. Finding a shovel that will help you to remain as vertical as possible is the first step.
Look for a snow shovel that looks like this:
Suncast 18″ Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo with Ergonomic Handle. $35 on Amazon
2. Warm Up before you work out!
You’ve heard this time and time again. You need to warm up your muscles (including your heart, which is a muscle) in order to not strain yourself. The same is true for any outdoor activity and snow shoveling falls into that category. Make sure that you warm up your lower back, legs and limbs before you pick up that shovel. Gentle arm and leg swings followed by marching in place for a few minutes is all it takes. A quick warm-up can be the difference between pulling out your back and getting a good work out. It can also prevent heart attack or stroke.
3. Use Proper Lifting techniques
I’m sure everyone has heard that saying, “Lift with your legs, not your back!” and the same is true here. You want to ensure that your core is tight and engaged before you lift anything. There’s a trick to this if you don’t know what your body is supposed to feel like when your core is engaged.
- Stand up straight. While you’re standing, pull your shoulder blades back, trying to get them to touch behind you at the same time squeeze your butt. This is how your upper body should remain while you’re shoveling.
- When you bend over to pick up snow make sure that you bend your knees and hinge at your hips. Think of yourself with your arms full of groceries and you have to shut your car door. If you bend over you might spill all of the groceries onto the floor. In order to keep your groceries and shut the car, you would bump the car door with knees bent. Try to use the same principles when shoveling.
You’ll notice in the photo below that the person is making a straight line with her back while bending over. This is how you can protect your back while lifting. In the second illustration, you can see how to properly shovel.
4. Don’t overdo it
Shoveling is a chore. It’s something that has to be done and not something we particularly look forward to doing. Make sure that when you’re shoveling that you are pacing yourself. Depending on how much you have to shovel, take periodic breaks. Also, remember to drink plenty of water. You may not think that you need it but you do. Also be sure to stretch your entire body after shoveling to prevent muscle soreness.
For more information about stretching or shoveling ergonomics, talk to Dr. B at Active Family Chiropractic. https://af-chiropractic.com/
Repost from December 13, 2017.