As I’m sitting at home looking at the snow fall, I become inspired for this month’s topic. Did you know that there is a “proper way” to shovel snow? A way that takes the strain off of your back. Now there is one way to guarantee that you do not hurt YOUR back, and that is to hire someone else to do the shoveling for you. This of course is a great option if it is available to you. However, if you are not in a position to hire someone then you are in luck! This month we will discuss some back saving strategies when shoveling snow.
- Start Early and Start Often:
By starting early and shoveling often, there is less snow to shovel. Research indicates that snow fall of greater than 2 inches places more stress on your neck and back when shoveling.
- Push the Snow:
Try to lift with the shovel as little as possible. Push the snow whenever possible. Pushing the snow also places less strain on your neck, shoulders, and back.
- Do NOT TWIST:
When you do have to lift the snow, try not to twist your body. Try turning your feet towards where you want the snow to go; and when possible try to move the snow directly in front of you instead of to the side. If you must twist (every situation is not ideal) then count your “twists”. So for example if you twist 5 times to the right switch it up and twist 5 times to the left.
- Stand Up:
You will want to counteract all that forward bending, so after about 20 shovel fulls stand up. You can even stretch your back backwards a little to take some pressure off of your back muscles. Taking time to catch your breath and stretch is IMPORTANT!
- Invest in an Ergonomic Shovel:
Those funny shaped shovels are a great investment. They are much better than the short straight handled shovels. The correct shovel helps you to maintain a more upright posture; therefore putting less strain on your back.
- Shovel Using the Correct Pattern:
There actually is a correct pattern when shoveling the driveway! Start by shoveling a 5 foot wide path down the middle of the driveway. Next, face one of the 5 foot sections and PUSH the snow forward towards the side of the driveway. Once at the end, lift the snow forward in front of you. Continue down the length of the driveway keeping the work in front of you.
- Stretch Afterwards:
It is important to stretch out afterwards. Your muscles are warm after shoveling the snow; so now would be the perfect time to stretch. One stretch that will be beneficial for your shoulders and the entire spine is a pectoralis stretch. Stand in an open doorway. Raise your arms up to the side, bent at 90 degree angles with palms facing forward and resting on the door frame. Slowly step forward with one foot. You should feel the stretch in your chest and shoulders. Make sure to keep your neck in line with your body (no forward head). Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Remember stretching can be uncomfortable but NOT painful! DO NOT push into pain. You can always make an appointment for your own personalized stretching routine.
Happy Shoveling Friends!