Today, let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day, clear your driveway, and avoid back pain!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
And what better way to say that than to shovel snow out of your driveway, maybe even spread the love and shovel your neighbor’s driveway and sidewalks as well. It’s a good day to think of others and do something nice;
however, don’t forget to think about your back and how shoveling sometimes really hurts your lower back, neck and even your shoulders afterwards. Today, we are looking at some stretches, before and after, that you can do to be sure to avoid any pain, stiffness or aches. We also found some fantastic advice on technique and tips when you are actually shoveling snow from Mettlercenter.com
Things to think about when dealing with that beautiful, cold, white, fluffy stuff!
Winter is here, and the inevitable snowfalls that accompany it. While shoveling snow can be a good exercise when performed correctly and with safety in mind, many people are shoveling with incorrect biomechanics—which put them at risk for injury.
Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity believed to cause tens of thousands of back, neck and shoulder injuries each year, ranging from muscle strain and sprains to significant medical emergencies requiring emergency room visits.
To protect yourself from potential injury, shovelers should follow these common-sense tips:
- Warm up and stretch before you begin
- Take frequent rest breaks
- When possible, push the snow off your drive/walkways, rather than lifting it
- If it is necessary to lift the snow, try using a smaller shovel and lift smaller amount
- Protect your back by bending your knees
After shoveling, if you notice pain, try:
- Icing the painful area (Yes, you are likely already cold, but this will help reduce inflammation from overuse.)
- Rest your painful area for a few days
When you’re buried in snow, your first thought may be to grab your shovel. But if you are not prepared, you are putting yourself at risk for strain or serious injury. Shoveling can be a strenuous activity. Warming up your muscles, using the right shovel and technique are key to minimizing your health risks.
The following snow removal tips can help you to avoid low back injuries and pain during the snowy winter season:
- Choose an ergonomic shovel. This can help take some of the effort out of snow removal by helping you stand straighter and lessen stress on your back.
- Warm-up before you go out. Cold tight muscles are more prone to injury. Doing 5–10 minutes of stretches before you go out to help loosen up your back and prep you for shoveling. Focus on your low back and hamstrings.
- Pay attention to your technique. Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. If you do lift the snow, keep your abs drawn in and your back flat. Lift by lowering your hips and using your legs. Avoid twisting your back to move the snow. Try to pivot the whole body. Try not to throw the snow. Walk the snow to its new location.
- Stretch after shoveling. Once your are done, stretch for 5–10 minutes to loosen up the muscles in the low back and hamstrings that were used during shoveling.
We wanted to add a few more from modernchiropracticcenter.com
- Don’t Do Too Much at One Time. Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than shoveling a large amount at once. Spend only 15-20 minutes at a time shoveling the snow. Put the shovel down and go do something else. After a short break, return to shoveling for another 15-20 minutes. If you have a massive amount of snow to move, if possible, removing snow over a period of days. In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once.
- Wear the right Footwear. Slippery conditions while shoveling can lead to slipping and/or falls and strains that can injure your back. Shoes or boots with good treads will help to minimize injuries from slipping. You can buy ice and snow grips for your shoes or boots. They are an inexpensive and very useful tool to help prevent slips and falls. Spread sand or rock salt on your sidewalk or driveway to increase traction and reduce the likelihood of slipping on the ice.
- If Possible, Stop Shoveling – Invest in a Snow Blower Instead. If you live in an area where there is plentiful snowfall, a snow blower becomes a common sense and good investment. When used correctly, a snow blower can put less stress on your low back than shoveling. Avoid stressing your back by using the power of your legs to push the snow blower while keeping your back straight and knees bent.
7 Stretches for Shoveling Snow– to do before (and after) shoveling snow:
- Foam Roll Back: Lay on top of the foam roller. Roll from the small of you back to the wide of your back. Roll 5–10 times to identify areas off tightness. Hold at these points for 20–30s.
- Foam Roll Hamstrings: Sit on top of the foam roller. Roll from the base of your hips to the top of the back of your knee (the length of the hamstring). Roll 5–10 times to identify areas off tightness. Hold at these points for 20–30s. You may also do this with just one leg instead of two by sliding to the edge of the roller.
- 3pt Hamstring Stretch: place your right foot up on a raised surface. Keeping your right leg completely straight and right toe pulled back toward you, lean forward with a straight back until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 20–30s. Maintaining the lean, rotate your torso so that your right shoulder points to your right foot. Hold for 20–30s. Still maintaining your forward lean, rotate your torso so that your left shoulder is pointing towards your right foot. Hold for 20–30s. Repeat with left leg.
- “A” stance Hamstring Stretch: Stand with your feet wide. Cross your arms and fall forwards with your upper body. Allow the weight of your arms to pull you to the ground. Hold this for 20–30s.
- Door Frame Low Back Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart in a door frame. Reach down with both hands to the bottom left hand side of the frame. Bend your knees as you do this. Grab the door frame and shift your weight to your right and raise your right hip up. Hold for 20–30s. Repeat with the other side.
- Knee to Chest Stretch: Lay on your back. Pull both knees to your chest and hold for 20–30s.
- Cat/Cow Stretch: Position yourself in the quadruped position, on your hands and your knees face down. Keep your hands as wide as your shoulder and your knees in line with your hands. Your start position will be a straight/neutral back. Round your back up like a cat and hold for 5 seconds. Arch your back and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times.
Snow shoveling can be safe and injury-free (not to mention great exercise), if you prepare your muscles, choose an ergonomically-friendly shovel, and maintain proper technique.