As I cautioned my optimistic husband before he headed out to shovel, he cheerily blew it off and said, "I love the great workout I get from snow shoveling!". Those of you who know "Mr. Calm" have witnessed his over-achieving nature. He shoveled our lot and that of 4 neighbors, plus cleaned the iced-over car, before heading inside to warm up. He felt great - until the next day.
Being in my very physical career, I have found that its quite easy to feel sore or injure myself if I don’t prepare well and take care.
Even if you’re physically fit, using appropriate shoveling equipment and sensible shoveling technique will prevent most back pain, shoulder pain and other common snow shoveling injuries. However, according to Dr. Susan Wainwright, vice chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia:
“If you’re not a regular exerciser or you’re in poor physical shape, your body won’t be prepared for the stress of shoveling snow and you increase your chances of sustaining muscle pulls, back injuries, and strains. Snow shoveling can also strain the heart and cause potentially life threatening injuries, such as a heart attack.”
To minimize injuries and soreness from snow shoveling, consider these guidelines;
• Warm-up your muscles. Before you begin shoveling, warm-up and gently stretch your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise
• Pace yourself. Snow shoveling and snow blowing are aerobic activities. When you feel fatigued, take breaks and rehydrate. If you experience pain that is not typical of just using weak muscles, such as chest discomfort or intense discomfort in your back or shoulders, stop shoveling, and get medical treatment.
• Proper equipment. Use a shovel that's comfortable for your height and strength. Don't use a shovel that's too heavy or too long for you. Try out different models available at your hardware store, and ultimately use the shovel which is most comfortable. Push style shovels are great for heavy snow, while single handle scoopers or brooms work quite well for light snow. Try ergonomic shovels, since they are lighter than typical snow shovels and feature contoured handles to minimize excessive bending and lifting.
• Posture. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase leverage. The right place is where they allow you use your body with the most ease. Use your legs for lifting and pushing more than your back. Finally, stand up and do a lengthening stretch every so often to avoid muscle cramping.
If you are injured or sore, hot baths, massage therapy with heat, gentle stretching, and heated pain relief balms are helpful.
Calm client favorites for overdoing any physical activity include;
- Back & Neck Intensive - a full hour of deep tissue, stretches and muscle-melting aromatherapy, concentrating on your aching back and neck.
- Winter Glow Hot Stone Massage - great for allover soreness because it uses heated, smooth stones to press heat into muscles, reducing soreness and pain by increasing circulation and dispersing lactic acid build-up responsible for much of the soreness.
Book now or call me at 917-596-9535 to schedule.
joanna tringali, NYS licensed massage therapist
calm: massage & skincare for women
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