Clearing the driveway after a snowstorm is far from anyone’s favorite task. It is a major inconvenience, and it can be dangerous if not done properly. Repeatedly moving a heavy shovel full of snow can put you at risk for low back and shoulder injury. Research has also shown that the risk for heart attack is also higher in the days following heavy snowfall.
We can’t control the weather but there are a few things you can do this winter to keep yourself healthy while shoveling:
- Warm Up: Do not start shoveling immediately after getting out of bed. Your body needs time to increase blood flow. By waiting at least an hour after waking up before you head outside, you give your body the chance move and bend easier. You should also stretch for 10-15 minutes prior to beginning to dig out of the snow.
- Hold the shovel correctly: Keep a wide grip on the shovel handle with one hand up high near the top of the shovel and one hand down low toward the snow so that you have better control of the heavy shovel. Also, keep the shovel as close to your body as possible as you carry it.
- Keep your knees bent and your core engaged and remember to lift with your legs rather than your back.
- Take breaks: Don’t shovel for longer than 30-40 minutes at a time. If your driveway/sidewalks take longer than that, head back inside to rest, stretch, and warm up before heading back out.
- Strength train throughout the year: If you want to shovel more efficiently and protect yourself each time we get a bad storm, it makes sense to build up your total body strength in general.
Physical therapy is a great way to work on your strength throughout the year. A physical therapist can educate you on exercises and stretches that will help prepare you for shoveling snow or any other physical activities you may encounter this winter. Or are you already suffering from chronic pain or injury? Physical therapy is a great way to address your ailments so you are ready to take on a physical task like shoveling.
Contact one of our clinics today to schedule a FREE assessment and see how PT can help you get ready for whatever comes your way this winter!