Contributed by Ira “Sam” Manalo, PT, DPT
With the first snowstorm of the season behind us, you probably did a lot of shoveling and experienced back pain afterwards.
Here are some quick and easy tips so you don’t have to suffer through the snow this winter:
Staying warm and hydrated is an important first step. Being cold and dehydrated leads to muscle fatigue, which increases your chances of injury.
Fifteen minutes of snow shoveling is considered a “moderate intensity” exercise. Performing gentle dynamic movements or static stretching before you begin to shovel can prevent injury.
Use The Right Shovel!
Using a shovel with a “S” shaped curved handle is more ergonomic than a straight handle. The “S” shaped handle transfers your force more efficiently towards the ground, which allows you to spend less energy.
Use Your Legs!
A common mistake that people make is they throw the snow around by rotating from their back, which places a lot of stress on the spine. Lifting from your legs and walking towards the pile of snow instead of throwing it, may be more time consuming but is better for injury prevention.
Fresh Fallen Snow Is Lighter!
Whenever possible, shovel before the snow becomes too densely packed. This will reduce the amount of load on your body.
Take A Little Bit Off The Top!
If the snow is packed, wet, or heavy consider taking off one layer at a time instead of trying to shovel a huge pile.
Taking a breather every 15-20 minutes will allow your body to recover from the physical activity and can help reduce future muscle soreness.
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2021!