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Low Back Resilience for Snow Shoveling

Hey, it’s Jennifer. Today I want to talk about shoveling if there’s some snow out there and what you can do to make it not such a drag on your low back.

Shoveling can be strenuous on the low back, because you’ve got this hinging motion and you’re lifting a load on a long lever, so it’s far away from you, which makes it more challenging. If you haven’t done a lot of that hinging motion to strengthen your low back, it can be really strenuous.

The other tough thing about shoveling is it’s not just a straight up and down hinge, you also have some rotation, getting the shovel to the side or throwing the snow to the side and a little bit of side bending as well. We want to strengthen the muscles in our back, not just in one plane, but in all of those planes that we’ll be moving in when we shovel.

Here’s a couple of exercises you can do to get yourself snow ready:

The first one is a variation of a normal deadlift where you hold your weight in front and then hinge in front, touch the floor and come back up hinging straight. For this we’re going to do that, but then also incorporate going to both sides to get that multi directional movement that we need when we shovel.

The second exercise we’re going to do requires us to get into a staggered stance, which most of us use when we’re shoveling. Then, we’re going to take the weight in a diagonal from one side up to the next side, with extended arms, keeping that lever long to get that lifting motion for shoveling.

Ideally, you would start this a couple months before snow, but it’s not too late; even if you start now and build up a little muscle capacity, you’ll be feeling much better after a few weeks.

Let me know what you think. Try it out. Fingers crossed for some light, fluffy snow that we can all enjoy and is easy to shoveling. Thanks!

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.