Burrr…. It’s cold out there! I love to see the snow fall from the sky, but yet dread it for the mere thought that snow = shoveling. Shoveling can be a great form of muscular training and even provide some cardiovascular exercise, yet it can also be the source for a lot of pain. Shoveling may result in what we as health practitioners call “DOMS”, which stands for delayed onset muscle soreness where you feel pain a day or two after working out, or a pulling of a muscle or ligament called a strain or a sprain, or something more sinister, such as a disc herniation. Whatever results from your shoveling experience, we are here to help! But first, let’s start with the most effective treatment – prevention! So let’s start there.
Here are some great tips to help you shovel right:
- Warm-up! Just like any other exercise you do it is important to warm-up. Whether you take a 10-to 15-minute walk, do some jumping jacks or even do high knee walks these will help get your body ready for exercise. Do a few simple stretches after this and you are good to go!
- Push the snow, don’t throw it! Push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. By throwing the snow you risk causing unnecessary strain on your back, and possibly perform a twisting movement that is known to aggravate disks.
- Bend at your knees! You’ve heard this phrase from your chiropractor before, haven’t you? Remember to bend at your hips and knees and have your leg and arm muscles do the lifting. Remember to keep your back in a neutral position with a slight curve inward in your low back.
- Take Breaks: Once we start shoveling we just want to push until we finish (pun intended!), however we need to listen to our bodies. If you feel a shortness of breath or tired then take a short break. If you feel chest pain or back pain stop immediately. If you are having severe chest pain this may be a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention. If you have back pain see your chiropractor or physiotherapist for help.
- Pick the right shovel! A lightweight, pusher-type shovel is the best. Heavy metal shovels can be hard on your back and require additional energy to remove the snow.
- Stay hydrated! Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you don’t sweat. Your body still needs plenty of fluids, even in subzero temperatures. So remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after shoveling. If it’s a big snowfall, bring a water bottle to keep yourself hydrated.
- Give your back some love! Whether you pick up a few low back exercises, learn proper lifting technique, your chiropractor is here to help!
If you follow these tips then you should have a great shoveling experience this winter! If you injure yourself shoveling this winter, we can help! Need exercises to strengthen your back? We can help. Want to learn proper lifting technique? We can help. Call our Trigenics office at (416) 481-1936.