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We’ve Got Your Back! Shovel Snow the Right Way

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Jessica
01.23.13

Few things are more peaceful than snow softly falling outside – that is, until you’ve been assigned shoveling duty. Then snow kind of sucks all of a sudden. Unless you’ve been hitting the gym like whoa, you could be putting your back in danger when you try to get that powder off of your porch. Avoid the aches and pains of winter by following these back-saving tips:

1. Warm Up

You wouldn’t jump into a hardcore exercise class without doing a little stretching first, right? Well, snow shoveling ain’t no walk in the park. Do a few basic stretches before you head outside to loosen things up.

2. Don’t Hold Your Breath

When you’re taking long, deep breaths you’re supplying your muscles with more energy, which makes clearing snow a whole lot easier.

3. Keep It Straight

If your spine isn’t straight (the proper term is “neutral”), you’ll end up seriously contorting your back. To keep it neutral, you’ll have to put your abdominal and lower back muscles to work, so you can think of this as exercise. The heavier the load is, the more you’ll have to engage your core muscles to keep your spine straight. Note: It’s okay to have a mild arch in your lower back, but never let your upper back curve!

4. Think Small

When you’re shoveling snow, just pick up a small load at a time. That way, your shovel won’t be too heavy and you won’t be reaching too far from your body (which makes that whole neutral spine thing impossible).

5. Pivot Instead of Twisting

When you’re tossing snow, pivot your entire body instead of twisting your shoulders. Pretend that you’re practicing your basketball skills.

6. Take Your Time

Yes, it may be cold outside, but hurrying won’t do your back any favors. Take your time and don’t ignore your body when it tells you it’s time for a break. A clear driveway is definitely not worth an emergency chiropractor visit.

7. Buy a Snow Blower

If you can’t stand the idea of putting your back through a snow-shoveling afternoon, it might be time to buy a snow blower. If all else fails, just move to Miami. Snow-shoveling isn’t really a problem down South!

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