Boston was crushed this past week going from record low to a record high snowfall. This causes a number of problems for Bostonians including shoveling, digging out cars, and dealing with the rough conditions throughout the city. Whenever it snows I always hear about how shoveling causes someone to throw their back out. Just like lifting weights, shoveling should be done using proper form to avoid injury.
Before you venture out to tackle the walk way, be sure to warm up. Warming up prevents injury, and the more specific the warm up is to the activity the better. Take 5- 10 minutes to jog in place; do body weight squats, planks, or other light exercise as well as stretching the lower back and hamstrings.
Ergonomic lifting technique should be your major focus. First of all make sure you are always facing your work head on. Avoid twisting and reaching while loading your spine. When bending down be sure to bend at the hips by pushing your butt backwards rather than bending at the spine. Use your legs as much as possible and keep hinging at the hip! It is very important to keep your spine straight and not rotated, tilted, or flexed forward. Do not lift more than what you are capable of. Placing your hand closer to the base of the shovel will allow for more leverage, giving you an easier time transporting the snow. Do not extend any part of your body too far outside your center of gravity. It you lose your balance you are reaching too far. Avoid throwing or twisting when dumping the snow.
Pace yourself! Aside from back pain, snow storms trigger a lot of heart attacks when at risk people go outside and over exert themselves shoveling. Going at a slower pace will also allow you to focus on your form more. Take breaks, and if at all possible use a snow blower!
If you have any questions about lifting technique, posture, or how to improve please don't hesitate to ask one of our outstanding personal trainers.