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Expecting a Snow Show? Be Sure to Shovel Safely!

Shoveling snowLiving in the Land of 10,000 Lakes means frigid winters complete with massive snowfalls. That means breaking out the shovel with great frequency during the frosty months. Though shoveling can be great exercise, it’s important to take the proper precautions as every year, thousands of people end up in the hospital with injuries sustained from shoveling snow.

Here are some tips for removing snow safely:

Warm up

As shoveling snow is vigorous exercise, it’s important to warm up your muscles before you start. Many people go from doing no type of exercise to suddenly shoveling and they often injure themselves (i.e. throwing out their backs when they shovel for the first couple times). Take a few minutes to warm up your back. You can do thoracic or back rotations or perform the Cat-Cow yoga pose, which helps bring flexibility to the spine. You can also walk around your block or do some light calisthenics before you begin. This will help prevent injuries like pulled muscles.

Let a Machine Do the Heavy Lifting

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of injury is to use a snow blower. If you do need to use a shovel, choose one that’s comfortable for you to hold and that has an ergonomic design. This will help reduce strain on your joints and muscles.

Use Proper Technique

When you’re shoveling it’s important to engage your core. Suck in your belly button and stabilize your core and glutes and make sure that you’re contracting them and not just bending over and then shoveling the snow. It’s also a good idea to switch sides when you’re shoveling. That’s because if you’re constantly bending, twisting and lifting all that heavy snow to one side, you’re going to throw your back out. So if you’re shoveling to the left, every once in a while switch and shovel to the right. Be sure to bend at the hip, keeping your shoulders back and your back flat, not rounded, and bending at your knees as if you’re picking up a box.

Pace Yourself

It’s important to pace yourself and take frequent breaks, as it’s easy to get tired quickly from this strenuous activity. If you start feeling fatigued, take a break and rest for a few minutes before continuing. And if at any point you feel pain in your chest or shortness of breath, stop immediately and seek medical attention. These could be signs of a heart attack—a condition that’s commonly brought on by shoveling snow.

Get Adjusted

Chiropractic care can help keep your spine aligned and healthy to be ready for snow shoveling and other winter activities. Give our practice a call today to book an appointment.

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