I know everyone has heard this before, but it is especially important when the snow is as damp and heavy as it is right now. Bending at the waist and using your back to bear the weight of each shovel full can cause severe spinal inflammation. Another safe physical technique is to make sure you don’t “reach” with your shovel. Use compact strokes as close to your body as possible while bending your knees and using your legs to lift and turn to remove the snow. Take frequent breaks every 10 minutes or so and make sure to drink plenty of water. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you’re not sweating, you are actually sweating more! Dehydration increases muscle tension and inflammation while also reducing your muscular endurance.
Take a few minutes to stretch while you take a break and it will go a long way to prevent soreness later. If you feel that you have injured a muscle or joint while shoveling, use ice and ibuprofin until you can seek medical attention. Of course, your friendly acupuncturists and massage therapist at Integrative Health Centers are here for you if you need us!
Be safe and stay warm!
Domenic Thomas, L.Ac.