SOLON– So, the white stuff has made its return to Iowa. Along with the joys of snowmen, sledding, and skiing comes the dreaded task of shoveling those driveways and sidewalks.
While shoveling can become an almost daily chore in Solon, it can also provide some much needed exercise in the winter months. However, shoveling incorrectly can put you at great risk for back injuries and a whole lot of discomfort. Here are some key tips to avoiding injury if you must shovel:
Warm up. Just like any exercise, snow shoveling is best not done with stiff or cold muscles. Walk around your house or take a stroll down the street to see which neighbor got it the worst.
Bundle up. Wearing layers of clothing allows you to remove some layers if you begin to get to warm after shoveling for a while.
Use a lighter shovel. A huge scoop might make it seem like it will be easier, but a smaller, lighter shovel can decrease the strain of lifting dangerous amounts of snow and allow you to move more quickly and save more energy.
Lift with your knees and throw straight. Many people know to lift with their legs, but then they twist to throw the snow off to the side– and the twisting is where the back injury is most likely to occur. It’s actually best to position yourself so you’re lifting and throwing the snow straight in front of you. For example, work perpendicular to the driveway and throw into the lawn straight in front of you.
Push if you can. Even better than throwing forward is pushing forward. If the space you are working in allows for it, push the snow off the area with the shovel rather than lifting and throwing at all.
Move your feet. To avoid twisting from the waist, move your feet so your toes are always pointed toward where you are pushing or throwing the snow.
Use good mechanics. Keep your arms and elbows as close to your body as possible. When your arms reach forward, it pulls your upper body forward and increases strain on the lower back.
Know when to say when. Don’t push through pain. Take a break, or stop altogether if you feel chest pain, have shortness of breath, or are very exhausted. Your body is very intelligent– listen to it.
If you come in sore from shoveling, ice and rest are still the best. Despite the fact that you’ve been out in the cold, ice is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation. If the soreness doesn’t go away in a few days, consider seeing their family doctor or chiropractor. It never hurts to be checked out by a health professional if the pain/soreness doesn’t subside in a reasonable amount of time. If you are feeling the ill effects of shoveling, you can schedule a chiropractic consultation.