As the winter weather comes to the Midwest, keep these simple snow safety tips in mind as your grab your shovel! Being smart before you get to work outside can help prevent back pain and neck pain in the future.
1. Warm up – Shoveling uses many muscles in your body – arms, shoulders, legs, and upper and lower back. Warming up with a few gentle stretching exercises and a short walk around the block before you even pickup the shovel could save you pain tomorrow. Start with some simple back pain stretches.
2. Use proper tools – A shovel that is the appropriate height and weight will help reduce the need to hunch over when shoveling. Before buying snow equipment, test it out in the store to see how it feels, and make sure it is the proper size for you and the type of work that will be done.
3. Lifts with your legs, don’t twist or hunch – When shoveling, try to avoid lifting a full shovel of snow using your back muscles. Instead, bend your knees and lift with your legs, keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bend and your feet hip-width apart. In addition, you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, turn your whole body.
4. Switch sides while shoveling – Like dribbling a basketball, people tend to favor one hand or side of their body when they’re shoveling. To avoid using the same muscles to do the same movement repetitively, try switching sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.
5. Pace yourself and know your limits– Ease into winter clean up and take regular breaks every 15-20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and enjoy some hot chocolate. These frequent breaks will give you time to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the winter weather.
6. Exercise year-round – People who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.