There are few winter activities that result in as much back pain as shoveling snow. Before it really starts to come down this winter, you can get your back ready by performing certain exercises that strengthen the right muscles. This, combined with proper shoveling technique, can help to protect your back this winter.
Leg Exercises Build Lifting Strength
One of the keys to shoveling properly is lifting with your legs and not your back. That means building leg strength. Squats are a good way to do this. However, you can just as easily hurt your back or knees if you don’t squat properly, so be sure you are only squatting until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. You don’t have to get all the way to the floor. Also, if you haven’t worked out in a while, you may want to start without weights and add light dumbbells as you go.
Strengthen Your Core
Your abs and back muscles will be carrying a load even if you are trying your best to activate your legs while lifting. That means a strong core is vital to avoiding injury. Bent-over rows are a great way to build up the back (as demonstrated in this image).
Crunches can help strengthen the upper abdominals so the abs can help carry some of the load as well. While you should always try to throw snow ahead of you instead of to the side, be sure to pay attention to your oblique muscles.
More Back and Shoulder Exercises
Other back and shoulder exercises can give you more snow tossing strength. For example, lat pulldowns target the upper back, and any decent gym should have a machine for this muscle group. Look for a machine where you can sit and pull down a bar with a wide grip from above. Many of these machines are combined with a seated row exercise which can also help the back.
Plus, if you use free weights to do some front arm raises, this will help activate the same muscles you will use to lift a full shovel. Hold the weights in front of you at full arm’s length and raise the weights in front of you. Start with a very light weight to avoid injuring the bicep tendon since this is a muscle that some may rarely activate (other than when shoveling snow).
If You Strain Your Back this Winter
Whether it happens shoveling, or even overdoing it at the gym getting ready to shovel, a strained back isn’t something to take lightly. That’s why Dr. Ward is always ready to add same-day emergency appointments to his schedule. Hopefully, our tips will help keep you pain-free, but if you wake up with a stiff back after a long day of shoveling, schedule an adjustment with us for a convenient appointment with little to no wait time.