Snow Shoveling 101 – With Michael Williams and Dr. Jared Barrieau
It’s that time of year again. Where you have to be ready to leave the house earlier to make sure you have enough time to get the snow off your driveway. Here are a few tips to warm up and help reduce your risk of low back injury from shoveling snow.
Before you start to shovel, make sure you have given yourself time to warm up! Follow these tips from our chiropractor, Dr. Jared Barrieau:
1. Wait 30 minutes after waking up or sitting.
2. Get your spine moving:
▪️ Cat-Cows, 6-8 cycles
▪️ Low Back Range of Motion, 3x through range
3. Warm-up the glutes and legs:
▪️Squats, 2 sets of 10
▪️Lunges, 2 sets of 10, both sides
Watch the warm up video here:
Once you’ve warmed up and are ready to shovel safely, keep these things in mind from Michael Williams, Registered Physiotherapist!
1. Lift with your butt, not your back: Your gluteal muscles (or “glutes”) are some of the most powerful muscles in your body. Bending through the hips and knees, and keeping the spine from rounding will help you use your glutes more and your back less.
2. Use momentum to help you shovel: Step forward as you drive the shovel into the snow and as you toss the heavy snow onto your lawn.
3. Switch sides: Alternating between the left and right hand being the lead hand will allow you to use the muscles in your back and shoulder in a more balanced way.
4. Don’t hold your breath: People often hold their breath while doing strenuous tasks like shoveling snow. This is a strategy to increase abdominal pressure which helps keep the spine more stable against external stresses. However, holding your breath during physical exertion also makes you get tired more quickly, which again increases the risk of muscle strains. Not to mention breath holding can lead to spikes in blood pressure, which is one reason why snow shoveling can be especially dangerous in those who have a history of heart problems or high blood pressure.
5. Use an ergonomic shovel: Shovels that have two handles (one at the top and one closer to the blade) give you more leverage when lifting the snow to toss it, which is the most strenuous part of shovelling.
6. Use a snow blower! Though not an option for all, this is the least back-intensive option for snow removal.