It’s that time of year again, and unless you’re going south for the next six months, you’ll likely be shoveling a lot of snow. I can’t clear the snow for you, however I can give you a few simple exercises that will help make sure you don’t end up with a nasty back injury after shoveling snow.
Lower back injuries are extremely common with snow removal for a number of reasons, but it is avoidable if you prepare yourself beforehand. Trying to lift a shovel full of heavy, wet snow is no easy task, let alone on a slippery surface. Trying to do so without warming up is a recipe for injury.
Here are a couple of stretches we recommend doing before you head out. As with any stretch or exercise, if you are experiencing any pain or severe discomfort, stop and ease out.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start by stepping one foot in front of the other, getting into a runners lunge. Tuck your pelvis in, making sure you’re not sticking your butt out. Slowly lower your pelvis down, making sure your front knee doesn’t travel past your foot. You should feel a good stretch on the back leg, at the front-side of your hip. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
If you’re having trouble balancing, widen your stance or rest the back knee on the ground (use something soft under the knee if there is any pain).
Twists are a nice way to open the back, and you can easily add this into your lunge by turning away from your back leg.
You can make this one a little easier by laying down on your back with your arms in a T-shape, and then bringing your knees up and across the body.
The simplest glute stretch is called “Figure 4” because you make a 4-like shape with your legs.
You can do this pose standing, seated, or laying on your back. Hold for at least 30-45 seconds on each side. Try leaning forward a little bit to deepen the stretch.
By stretching the glutes and hip flexors, we take a lot of stress and tension out of the lower back, allowing the hips to move freely, letting us use our legs properly and waking up our core muscles to support our back when shoveling. It only takes a few minutes and it can save your back from a lengthy and painful recovery.
If you’re having any trouble with these stretches, or if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to assist.