When snow, ice and frigid winds blast into town, watch out. If your body is not in condition, the common winter chore of snow shoveling can present the potential for things like spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems.
Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate your lower back discs. In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, (which most people do not have) often results in painful injuries. If you have any issues from shoveling, even minor ones, call the office now and get checked. Be prepared and follow these tips for exercise of the snow shoveling variety:
- Be prepared. Maintain your exercise program year-round if possible.
- Listen to weather forecasts so you can get up early and have time to shovel before work; rushing the job can lead to injury.
- Wear layers of clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
- Do some stretching before you grab the shovel.
- For big jobs, use a motorized snow blower. If you shovel by hand, use a lightweight, ergonomically designed shovel to reduce back strain.
- When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don't try to throw it; walk it to the snow bank.
- Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
- Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
- Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
- Stop if you feel chest pain, or get excessively tired or have shortness of breath. You may need immediate professional care.
- If you feel sore after shoveling, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for an hour. Repeat at least a couple of times each day over the next day or two.