Shoveling Snow Without Straining Your Back
Every winter, we will all inevitably face at least one snowstorm and this includes shoveling snow. By shoveling snow, not only can we walk easily on our driveways but also prevent dangerous ice from forming beneath. Shoveling is an activity that we sometimes rush through but it is also, wrongly done, can be a constant motion of bending one’s back. Shoveling snow is never an easy task but if done properly you can minimize the risk of straining your back.
Regardless of age, most us don’t think of shoveling as a workout. We simply just want to clear the sidewalks and head back indoors as quickly as possible. As with any workout, especially one that consists of moderate aerobic and anaerobic activity, a person must properly warm-up to get blood flow throughout the body and to increase muscle extensibility. This is especially important when the temperature drops below freezing. Because jumping jacks and burpees are out of the question when wearing heavy winter boots and 3 layers of clothing, a simple 3-5-minute brisk walk should be sufficient. That combined with light trunk rotations and body weight squats should properly bring blood flow to cold muscles in preparation for the “workout”.
Body mechanics is key when pushing and lifting snow. You should never bend at your waist when lifting a loaded shovel, but rather by your hips and your knees while keeping your back straight (no slouching.) Your hips consist of big ball-and-socket joints that are designed to move in multiple planes of motion. Your back, on the other hand, consists of small facet joints that are designed to move in only small increments of motion. Why not use your joints the way that they were intended? This minimizes the risk of lower back strains and herniated disks!! Lastly, if you ever feel pain or fatigue, STOP and take a break. Your body has a way of telling you that you’ve done too much so take a break and resume when you feel up to it. If not, there may be neighborhood kids willing shovel… for a price of course!!
- Warm-up to prepare your body for the “workout”
- Keep your back straight with lifting
- Bend at your hips and knees (and not your waist!) when bending
- Take a break when needed
If you are experiencing back problems, our physical therapists will help you not only understand your back problem but how to resolve this pain, stiffness, and immobility. Physical Therapy provides a proven system to relieve back pain and prevent this pain from coming back.
Call (718) 835-0084 and schedule an appointment at Cross Bay Physical Therapy.