Ottawa, I genuinely hope you all fared well after our incredible dumping of snow in our Nations Capital! 50 cms is no joke! How are your back and shoulders doing? Those wrists and legs from pushing your neighbors car out of their driveway? If you are like most people who do not do this on the regular, likely pretty sore today. I don’t think that winter is done with us just yet, so I have decided to put together a few tips to minimize the risk and damage to your snow shoveling bod!
Snow shoveling is seriously hard work. Most of us do not take the time to properly warm up before the activity (but you would before a hockey game?) I don’t get it! 5 minutes and you will do a lot of good to ensure your body (and heart) stands up to the test.
Some * simple* things to do before heading out (include left and right):
Think mobilization and stabilization (muscle activation) from head to toe. Motion is lotion – do not stretch cold muscles! Move them with dynamic stretches (about 3o seconds each)
1) Make a few tight fists and release into a full fingered stretch (grip muscles)
2) Wrist, elbow and shoulder circles
3) Neck stretches
4) Shoulder shrugs, and ROM (range of motion) drills
5) Squats with cross-body reach
6) Leg swings, dynamic groin stretch
7) Lunges with rotation
8) Good mornings
9) Rotating planks – you want those low back, hip and shoulder muscles primed and ready for action
10) Flowing ‘Downward Dog’ movements
You will feel nice and warm and ready to head outside into the cold. Careful not to over dress!
See it all here (excuse the terrible video) – YouTube link
A few technique pointers to keep your back safe:
1) Brace your abdominal muscles before you apply force to the shovel (scooping, pushing or tossing)
2) Keep the shovel as close as possible to your body
3) Keep the rotation in your spine minimal, turn and pivot your whole body in sequence (head, neck, shoulders, torso, hips and lower body)
4) Stick to smaller more frequent scoops
5) Change the side you are shoveling from FREQUENTLY
6) Take frequent mini breaks to stand up straight
7) POSTURE! Good posture and breathing mechanics are everything. Pin those shoulder blades down onto your ribs and pull your belly button into your spine. Breathe fully into your diaphram, chest and shoulders to maximize oxygen delivery to the working muscles.
8) Stay hydrated. Try 8oz 20 minutes before you go out and a few sips along the way. For every hour of shoveling you should consume one standard sport bottle of water. Not only will you feel better after, well hydrated soft muscles perform better than dehydrated ones – and are less prone to tearing