Shoveling snow can be an intense workout if you're not careful. The combination of bending, lifting, and throwing all that heavy snow can wreak havoc on your back and your knees. Making sure you have the right tools like these snow shoveling safety exercises for the job is just one part of staying safe when shoveling snow. You also need to know how to avoid putting excess pressure on your joints, especially those already sore from previous exercise or injuries of last winter.
According to the National Safety Council, over 1,000 shoveling-related injuries occur yearly, almost half of which are from slips and falls. When shoveling snow outside your home, you must prepare for the elements. Even though shoveling snow can seem mundane, it can be pretty dangerous. Whether you’re working on your home exterior or clearing snow from a public sidewalk, you become prone to severe muscle strains and other injuries if you’re not careful.
That’s why you should do some snow shoveling safety exercises before and after you shovel. Exercises before shoveling will help you keep your body strong and ready for the snow, while exercises after shoveling will help you take care of your body afterward.
Before Shoveling Snow:
Begin in an upright standing position with your legs hip-width apart, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, hips, and legs. Engage your core. Bend your knees and hinge through your hips to move into a squat position, keeping your knees behind your toes. Raise back up and squeeze your glutes at the end position. Repeat the movement. Start with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
2. Arm Circles
Begin in an upright standing position with your legs hip-width apart, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, hips, and legs. Engage your core and place your arms at your sides with your palms facing forward. Move your arms in a significant circular motion. Lower your arms to return to the starting position and repeat the movement in the opposite direction. Start with 1 set of 10 repetitions in each order.
3. Core Activation
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Raise your knees to a 90-degree angle and place your arms at your sides. Contract your abdominal muscles and lower one leg to tap your foot on the floor. Raise your leg to return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side.
After Shovelling Snow:
1. Side Neck Stretch
Begin in an upright standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, hips, and legs. Place your arms at your sides. Looking for a light stretch along the side of the neck, drop one ear towards your shoulder and hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Take deep belly breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side. Start with 1 set of 1-2 repetitions on each side, holding for 20-30 seconds.
To intensify the stretch, use your hand to pull your head closer to your shoulder gently.
Side Neck Stretch
2. Quad/Hip Stretch
Stand upright with one hand against the wall for balance, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, hips, and legs. Bring one heel against your seat, holding your foot with your hand. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite leg. Start with 1 set of 1-2 repetitions on each side, holding for 20-30 seconds.
3. Eagle Arms
Begin in an upright standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, hips, and legs. Engage your core. Cross your arms in front of your body at shoulder height, wrapping at the elbows and wrists. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Relax and repeat the movement on the opposite side.
Start with 1 set of 2-3 repetitions on each side, holding for 20-30 seconds.
We know how much winter activities like shoveling snow can hurt your body if you’re not careful. That’s why we shared these 6 helpful snow shoveling safety exercises for staying safe when shoveling snow. It may not be the best time of the year to shovel snow. But when it snows, people have to scoop snow. And, no matter how tempting it is to skip the exercise, doing a few exercises while shoveling snow can help you stay safe without a workout partner or equipment.
Tips for Injury-free While Shoveling Snow
Shoveling snow can be a physically demanding task, and it's important to take steps to prevent injury while doing it. Here are some tips to help you shovel snow safety
Warm up before you start shoveling
Take a few minutes to stretch your muscles before you begin. This will help prepare your body for physical activity. Before doing the exercises above, you can do warm-ups like walking for a few minutes or marching in place to warm up your muscles. Ensure your arms, shoulders, legs, and back are adequately stretched because warm muscles work better and are less susceptible to injury. After the exercises, begin shoveling slowly to prevent placing a sudden burden on your heart.
Use a shovel that is the right size for you.
A too-long or heavy shovel can be difficult to maneuver, leading to strain on your joints and muscle.
When lifting the shovel, use your legs to push up, rather than your back, and keep the shovel close to your body to reduce the strain on your muscles.
Shoveling snow can be tiring, so take breaks as needed. Stand up straight and stretch your muscles during these breaks to help prevent slips and falls.
Pay Attention to your body.
If you feel pain or discomfort while shoveling, stop and rest. If the pain persists, consult a medical professional.
When the snow piles up, it can be easy to forget the dangers of shoveling. As a result, you could end up hurting yourself. As such, you might as well make the process as painless as possible and take a few steps to make sure you’re staying safe throughout the whole ordeal. So, before you go outside to shovel that mountain of snow, do these simple yet effective exercises and tips to make you physically ready for the amount of work waiting outside. By following these snow shoveling safety exercises tips, you can help prevent injury while shoveling snow.