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Yay! It is winter!!! Time to break out the skis, skates, shovels, and snowshoes. Wait what? Shovels? Yup. Shoveling the snow is as Canadian as a freshly fried Beavertail with cinnamon sugar. For better or for worse snow shoveling may as well be one of our official sports. And in saying that, it is critical to ensure your body is ready to play.
Would you play tennis or pickleball without first properly warming up your body? If you answered yes, you may be a current patient of our clinic because not properly warming up can easily lead to injuries such as:
Lumbar (lower back) strain
Bicep (elbow) strain/tear
Rotator cuff (shoulder) strain/tear
Intrigued? Keep on reading for some tips and tricks to keep you performing at your best and become the MVS. (Most Valuable Shoveler).
#1: FIGHTER, CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
(pick the right shovel for you)
Check that your snow shovel is ergonomic and fits your body size. If it doesn’t, head to your local hardware store and have someone help you find one. When adjusted properly, it should fit comfortably in your hands while you stand with a slight bend of your elbows, back and knees
#2: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO
Check the forecast and see what’s in store. If it’s a doozy system moving through try to plan on increasing the frequency of trips outside to remove small amounts of snow more often throughout the day.
#3: IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE
Time to move and groove. Actually, playing that song and dancing in your kitchen before you brave the elements would be a fantastic warm up. If dancing is not for you, or if you don’t have curtains to hide from the neighbors, do some simple exercises for 5 minutes or so. Some examples are:
#4. DRESSED FOR SUCCESS
Wear boots or shoes with good grips. Wear clothes that keep you warm but breathable to ensure your body temperature stays in a safe zone.
#5. I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT
(Now that you are outside, it’s time to move the snow)
Keep these tips in mind when you are shoveling:
Use your legs:
Your gluteals and thighs are STRONG muscle groups—use them as much as you can by bending at your knees and hips when shoveling. Your back muscles need exercise too-but having them do more than their fair share may lead to pain and injury.
Push the snow if you can instead of lifting:
Limit the amount of snow on your shovel:
Think 5-10 lbs per shovel load.
Don’t twist your back: When lifting a load of snow onto your shovel bend at your knees and hips and keep your back straight. Keep your tummy tucked in a bit too to help increase your core stability. If you need to move/toss the snow, turn your body using your feet instead of simply twisting.
Take frequent breaks:
Stop to extend your back and take a few deep breaths every 5-10 minutes
Don’t eat the yellow snow!!!—but do drink lots of water before, during and after shoveling.
When you get inside, do not just sit down. Finish dancing to your favorite song or at least do some cool-down stretches, change out of your sweaty clothes, and have a cup of Hot Chocolate while you peer out your window to look at your masterpiece.