Proper position matters: Shoveling snow is heavy-duty exercise

WASHINGTON — Shoveling snow is drudgery to most of us. But it’s also heavy duty exercise. And like any other workout, using the proper technique is essential to avoid soreness and injury.

Proper form is similar to that gym staple: the squat.

“Bend down on your hands and knees and do not twist your back or bend on your back,” says Pallavi Shah, a physical therapist with Physical Therapy in Action of Silver Spring.

She says lift small amounts of snow at a time and keep that shovel from swinging too high.

“Do not try to reach and toss the snow,” Shah says. Instead, walk to the place where you want to pile the snow and just dump it there.”

Boots or shoes with a good tread are essential when shoveling or walking on any slippery surface. And once there is a cleared path, it’s a good idea to throw down some salt or cat litter to reduce the likelihood of anyone slipping on ice.

Shah says a hot shower after shoveling provides steamed heat that can help relax tired muscles. But the best therapy for any twinges earned while clearing snow in the cold is an ice pack.

Ice the sore spot for about twenty minutes at a time, Shah says. If the twinge is still there 48 hours later, seek medical attention.

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