During this winter season, everyone will pick up a shovel at some point. A foot of snow can weight 7 pounds when it first starts to pile up. However, If that snow sits longer and gets wet or compacted, now it can weigh 20 pounds. Moving up to 20 lbs with every shovel full is going to make you tired… really quick. This is why it is so important to watch those body mechanics!
Here a few quick tips to maintain your spine health during snow shoveling:
Pick the right shovel! Some shovels have ergonomic handles that can decrease the load on your back, but make sure it isn’t too heavy. In general, a plastic shovel will be lighter than a metal one, but the risk of breaking is also much higher… weigh your benefits.
Do a little dynamic warm-up- side stepping, arm circles or any other cross-body movement you can think of for 5-10:00 before you go out to shovel. Check out our dynamic warm-up!
Stand with your legs hip width apart; bend your knees and hinge at your hips keeping a flat back. The form should be similar to when you are sitting down in a chair or lifting a box.
Start the process early in a big snowfall. If there are only a couple of inches on the ground, then you may be able to walk and push the snow, which is always easier on your lower back.
For the heavier snowfall, try this. Once you have the snow in your shovel, push through your heels to throw that snow off of your shovel in front of you or slightly to the side. (This causes your gluteal muscles to work and not your back). Avoid over-rotating your spine when you are getting the snow off your shovel.
Switch sides that you shovel on (I know, we all have a dominate side, but this can really prevent one side of your back from getting really achy).
Take frequent breaks every 30-60 minutes.
Come inside and do some gentle stretches for 10 minutes.
Stay warm, stay safe and have a health start to 2018!!