Shoveling snow is not inherently dangerous. It’s not the activity that breaks down your body — its the activity you were not prepared for that causes injury!
The #1 thing you can do to prevent back, shoulder and neck injuries when clearing snow is to train your body to bend, lift, push and carry heavy things. A couple of hundred years ago, your survival would have depended on your ability to do these strenuous tasks. The more difficult and physical you can make your daily routine, the higher your threshold will be for these types of tasks. Most of us can’t add too much physicality to our daily activities, so we artificially practice these movements with exercise. Cardio alone will not prepare you for snow removal…you need to lift heavy stuff.
Assuming it’s already winter and you don’t have 6-8 weeks to complete a conditioning program, here are a few tips you can use to help reduce load on your spine and shoulders. First, make sure you bend at your hips and not your spinewhen you shovel. You’ll have to check out my video to see the difference when you bend at the hip vs. back. Think about getting into defense position or pushing your butt backwards like in a deadlift — that’s what it feels like.
When you flip the shovel to dump the snow, it’s important to brace your core and use your hips to drive this motion. Don’t shrug your shoulders or twist your back. That may work for a few reps, but those joints can’t take that for a whole driveway.
Reduce strain on your neck by keeping it in line with your spine. Avoid looking up or leading with your neck as you rise. Those muscles are not designed for that load and your core/hips should be doing the heavy lifting.
If you read this blog post too late and already have back, neck or shoulder pain from shoveling snow, don’t worry. We can help! Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture and massage therapy do a great job naturally relieving pain and I can show you how to move better and get stronger so that you don’t repeat the same mistake twice! Book an appointment with me today!