Shoveling snow is everyone's favorite activity ever, right?
I can still hear my Dad asking me to go shovel the driveway with my brother. Freezing temperatures be damned, that driveway needs to be cleared!
Shoveling snow realistically is something most of us dread due to the cold and time of day we are asked to shovel. I'm going to do a bit of research review to really paint the picture on how shoveling snow is affecting people during the Winter Months.
According to a study from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, from 1990 to 2006 an average of about 12,000 people saw an Emergency Department for a shoveling-related incident.
Approximately 53% of those cases were diagnosed with a soft tissue injury. Lower back injuries accounted for 34% of them. The second most common area injured were arms and shoulders at 15.9%.
The most common cause of injury was simply muscle and joint over-exertion! That was followed up by using a non-ergonomic friendly shovel.
1. WARM UP & WARM UP!
So often we find ourselves rolling out of bed in the morning, throwing on a coat & boots and we are out the door. Not only do we need to layer our clothing to help warm our body, but we need to include some mobility exercises to make sure our muscles and joints are ready to handle the load that will be placed on them.
Putting on layers allows us to heat or cool ourselves as needed.
A proper warm-up is essential to most any vigorous activity. We need to get circulation to our muscles before these activities, so our muscles are ready to handle the loads the activity will produce.
The two most important areas of the body I want you to focus on are your shoulders and legs (hips). Your arms and legs should be the primary movers when shoveling snow.
We get into compromised positions when we don't use our legs like bending forward with our back versus squatting/hinging at the hips.
2. PUSH THE SNOW STRAIGHT AHEAD.
How many of us try doing the Gravedigger? We get a heaping pile of snow just to throw it over our shoulder?
While I understand the uniqueness of certain driveways and some things are unavoidable, the further we allow the weight of the snow to get further from our center of gravity, we are putting our muscles and joints in a compromised state.
Always try to PUSH the snow, not pull it.
Third Tip: USE THOSE ARMS AND LEGS
You've pushed the snow to the edge of your driveway. Now what?
Stick that booty out, bend at the hips (NOT BACK), and squat. Who knew you'd be working those glutes while shoveling huh?
Our backs were not meant to be the primary mover for lifting heavy objects. That's what our legs and arms are for! That's also why I want your warmup to be focused on your shoulders and hips.
4. TAKE BREAKS!
I see you over there trying to get this 1 hour task done in 15 minutes before work. Stop it! If you know you're going to be shoveling in the morning, allow yourself for time in the morning to go through a proper warm up.
Take breaks as needed. When our bodies become tired and fatigued, the more likely that injury is to occur.
If you are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain, stop the activity immediately.