Many people dread snow falling, mainly because it is a prelude to the inevitable shoveling that follows. However, we encourage you to look at shoveling snow as a bonus exercise opportunity. Shoveling snow is like a full-body gym workout that’s been brought right to your door. Like any strenuous workout, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve adequately prepared for the task.
Snow shoveling is an excellent way to get a full-body workout during the winter months. A cubic foot of snow can weigh between one and 20 pounds, depending on its water content. It may take dozens or even hundreds of shovel loads to clear a driveway or dig a vehicle out. When you consider that each load is akin to a rep while lifting weights in the gym, the scope of the workout will soon become apparent. You will work your arms, chest, back, core, and legs while also getting some cardio in. Prepare for your snow shoveling workout with these three tips.
Stretch Before You Start Shoveling Snow
Just like any strenuous workout, stretching before shoveling snow will be key to avoiding injury. Stretching helps to prepare your muscles for the physical demands of exercise by increasing flexibility and range of motion, reducing muscle tension, and allowing for greater mobility.
Additionally, stretching pre-workout can help to decrease the risk of injury. It loosens up tight muscles that may be more prone to strain or tear when put to use. And, stretching helps to increase blood flow throughout the body which can lead to improved circulation, improved posture, better performance during exercise, less fatigue in muscles post-workout, and increased energy levels overall.
In terms of snow shoveling specifically, stretching before engaging in this type of physical activity should be done to maintain good posture – something that’s key in avoiding painful lower back pain or shoulder strain. Taking the time to stretch before shoveling snow helps you perform better during your workout. However, it also ensures you stay safe while doing so. The Sworkit Snow Shovel Stretch is a great way to ensure your body is primed for the task.
Make Sure You Are Equipped for the Task
Unlike traditional workout environments, snow shoveling is less controlled than others. This means it requires special consideration to prevent injury. Injury can occur from exertion, but also from the cold and even potentially slipping and falling.
Always use an ergonomic shovel that fits your body type and has a handle length suited for your height. Doing so can reduce certain strains or injuries from incorrect posture or form while shoveling. Wear proper clothing, such as waterproof boots and layers that keep you warm and dry even when wet. Make sure to take frequent breaks when needed and drink plenty of fluids throughout the process, which helps prevent dehydration and fatigue. Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you won’t sweat!
Prepare Yourself by Learning the Proper Form
It’s vital that you use proper form when shoveling snow, especially with densely packed, water-saturated snow as this is the most challenging to move.
- Don’t overload the shovel. Snow shoveling is a marathon, not a sprint. Because the weight of snow can be so unpredictable even in the same snowfall due to water content variance, always err on the side of caution and assume that the snow is heavier than it is.
- Never throw the snow — walk over and dump it. The jerky motions involved in throwing snow can be a surefire way to injure your lower back, especially if the shovel load is heavier than you anticipated. Turning the shovel to drop the snow into its desired location is a far safer way of moving it.
- Focus on using your core. When lifting the snow, bend your knees and squat, and focus on leading with your hips. This will better distribute the work required throughout your body instead of exclusively recruiting your back.
Snow Shoveling: A Solid Workout
Shoveling snow can be a great workout and an effective way to stay active during the winter months. However, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure that you can do so safely and effectively. By stretching before you begin, equipping yourself with proper gear for shoveling snow, and learning the correct form, you will be well on your way toward completing your task successfully and having a solid, gratifying workout.
If you have specific questions, be sure to utilize the “Ask a Trainer” feature in the Sworkit app to be connected with a trainer ready to answer your questions and help you reach your goals.