Dr. Samara Nicholson
During the winter months, snow shoveling can be a pain, considering that each shovelful of snow weighs about six pounds. That’s a lot of repetitive lifting, and wear and tear on your back. These back health tips will ease the hassle of clearing your driveway and help keep your back in shape.
Before tackling any strenuous activity, a quick 10-minute warm up such as a walk around the block will kickstart your muscles for the activity ahead and help prevent injury.
DON’T LET SNOW PILE UP
If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow after each snowfall.
PICK THE RIGHT SHOVEL
Use a lightweight push shovel. If you’re using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon, so snow won’t stick to it.
PUSH, DON’T THROW
Push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. This way, you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and abrupt twists or turns that may result in injury.
BEND YOUR KNEES
If you need to lift shovelfuls of snow, bend your knees, and use your leg and arm muscles to do the work, while keeping your back straight.
TAKE A BREAK
If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a break. Shake out your arms and legs to recharge.
KEEP COMFORT IN MIND
Layer your clothing so you can adapt to changing temperatures. If you become too warm while outdoors, simply remove a layer or two to maximize comfort.
Even though it’s cold outside, your body still needs plenty of fluids. Be sure to drink lots of water or fruit juice before, during and after shoveling. Remember – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
TAKE IT SLOW
Rest when you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shoveling if you experience sudden or prolonged joint or muscle pain.
After you’ve finished shoveling, cool down by taking a walk and stretching out tense muscles.