We love snow. We love skiing, sledding, ice skating, snuggling by the fire…We love the Grandma Moses paintings of snow and all the wonderful warm, fuzzy things about winter. But there is one thing we do not love about winter: snow shoveling. We imagine we are not alone in this growing disinclination toward moving flakes of frozen water from one spot to another.
We realize that by now, if you live anywhere in the Boston Area, you have been shoveling snow for quite some time. And it is indeed an excellent cardiovascular activity. According to Healthstatus.com, a 150-pound person can burn 413 calories in one hour of snow shoveling! A 200-pound person can burn up to 552 calories. That is almost as many calories burned as in activities such as swimming or jumping rope!
But before you get back out there to shovel snow and more snow, keep some things in mind:
- Stretch! Snow shoveling is strenuous exercise. Stretch your body and warm up before you dive in.
- Dress in layers – both to stay warm and to prevent overheating and sweating, which will make you colder.
- Take breaks. You will get winded, especially if you put your back into it. Take care of your body and give yourself plenty of breaks.
- Wax your snow shovel blade. Just like you would wax your skis for a better glide, wax the edge of your snow shovel blade. This little tip might even make the work fun.
Spine-health.com gives us the following tips for back pain prevention. “Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting the snow shovel is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic lifting techniques:
- Always face towards the object you intend to lift – have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it.
- Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight.
- Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that is too heavy for you.
- If you must lift a shovel full, grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other hand on the handle (handle and arm length will vary the technique).
- Avoid twisting the back to move the snow to its new location – always pivot your whole body to face the new direction.
- Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body at your center of gravity – do not extend your arms to throw the snow.
- Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather than reaching or tossing.”