With the storm upon us I figured it would be a good idea to post some shoveling tips in order to protect your backs and avoid any sort of injury.
What most people don’t consider is that shoveling snow was similar affects as low level weight lifting with and aerobic nature to it. We always warm up and prep for the above, but how many put thought into the later. That is often how/why people strain their backs or have issues.
Some basic information:
~Avoid stimulants, they may increase heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict.
If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately and seek assistance.
~Pace yourself with the shoveling and make sure you stay hydrated with WATER during the work. It is also good to take frequent breaks and maintain the shoveling throughout the day instead of all in one shot.
~Dress appropriately. Wear a hat, gloves, scarf and also footwear that will keep your dry and warm.
~Select a Shovel that’s Right for You. Make sure the size is good and one that won’t over stress your back from being too big or too small.
~Get a shovel with a curved handle. These shovels help you to keep your back straighter reducing back pain.
~Consider a shovel with a plastic blade instead of metal—plastic is lighter and thus less stress on your back.
~Bigger stronger people can have a bigger shovel, smaller or not as strong people may want to think about a smaller shovel. Sure it will carry less, but it will also be lighter so the residual affect of loading on your spine will be less then trying to constantly shovel a heavier load each time.
~Get a shovel made to push snow. It is far easier to push snow than to lift it.
Technique. Technique. Technique.
~Warm muscles work better. So take some time to stretch to prepare your body for activity.
~Hand placement on the shovel handle is very important! Don’t put your hands (grip) close to one another. Create some distance between the hands. This will give you more leverage and make it easier to lift snow.
~Think about good posture and maintaining the natural curve of your spine.
~Address your task directly. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart to maintain balance. Try to keep the shovel close to your body. Bend at the knees—not the waist or back. Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Lift with your legs—not your back. Do not twist your body. Dump the snow in front of you. If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet—do not twist!
~Just like if you were to squat and dead lift, do it properly with good form. Use your legs and a key is to avoid the twisting. That constant rotational work is where the form is usually lost and adds torque to your spine under weight.
~Fresh snow is lighter in weight—so clear snow as soon as it has fallen. Snow becomes dense as it compacts on the ground. Wet snow is very heavy. One shovelful can weigh 20 pounds or more!
(info taken from www.spineuniverse.com)
With this being said, shoveling in itself can be a great workout if done correctly. Get after it today and have some fun in the snow.