It’s a beautiful day today but I hear snow and possibly LOTS of it, is headed our way! Before the storm hits, here are some tips to save your back and shoulders. Generally the reason for low back pain is improper use of your body to remove heavy snow. The repetitive lifting can put a strain on the muscles, ligaments and discs of the lower back and shoulders. Using improper body mechanics while shoveling snow can cause significant stress to the body, leading to a muscle strain or even worse…a bulging disc, shoulder injuries and sore necks. Here are a few tips on how to protect & use your body more efficiently while shoveling 🙂 *Pick the right snow shovel – Look for a shovel that is lightweight. A heavy shovel just adds to the weight that you have to lift each time. Also, look for a shovel that has a good handle length for your height. You don’t want to have to bend forward too much with each scoop.
* Warm up before you head out – Shoveling snow is a workout! Treat it as one. Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than those that are warmed up. Take 5-10 minutes before shoveling and take a brisk walk, march in place and then stretch your shoulders, lower back and hamstrings.
* Pace yourself – It is better to shovel a small amount of snow more frequently rather than a large amount of snow all at once. When we become tired or form usually deteriorates. Take a 5 minute break every 10-15 minutes of shoveling. During that break, stretch the lower back & shoulders by using a door frame to stretch. Hold the top and/or side and release your shoulders. Allow your hips to go forward, arching your back slightly. Move slowly at first and increase your range of motion as your body stretches.
* Think about proper body mechanics while shoveling. Square your shoulders and hips toward the snow you intend to shovel. Bend at the knees and hips, tighten your core muscles. Remember to lift up from your knees, glutes, quads first rather than hinging from your lower back. While your body CAN work like this for a limited amount of time, it is not meant to and will cause you pain. Keep our loads of snow light. Avoid twisting when shoveling. Move your whole body instead. Switch your hand grip periodically.
*Avoid shoveling on a slippery surface. If you need to shovel on a slippery surface, try spreading kitty litter or sand over the surface and make sure you wear shoes with good tread.
*Use a snow blower if you have one. Well, I probably did not need to tell you this though, did I? 🙂
*Most of all, remember training your body in other ways (as with Pilates, Red Cord, Rowing – all things that we do in the studio!) can make you stronger for these necessary tasks. Strengthening your core muscles and improving your flexibility with daily exercise can make you stronger for things like shoveling snow. True Balance Pilates can help if you want to strengthen your core and improve your flexibility before you become injured. We can also help if you are recovering from an injury and want to return to your normal activities without pain or limitation. True Balance Pilates is now offering private and semi-private Pilates sessions with Jill M. Cuzzone, a fully certified Authentic Pilates instructor. Contact True Balance Pilates today and feel stronger, better tomorrow!
Enjoy today and be safe tomorrow in the snow!