Just like a tough weightlifting routine at the gym, shoveling snow is also hard work. Treat it as you would any hardcore yet safe and effective workout and you will gain the benefits just as you would a carefully designed exercise program.
The following yoga poses and shoveling tips can help keep you strong, fit and protect your body from injury when the sidewalk is knee-deep in snow.
A flexible spine is a healthy spine, especially when it comes to shoveling heavy snow. Practice this twist before and after shoveling.
Lie down on your back with your right knee pulled into your chest and your left leg extended on the floor. Reach for your right knee with your left hand and roll onto your left hip. Extend your right arm out to the side. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
You must have a strong back or hurling snow will tire you before the driveway is clear. Practice this variation of locust pose to support the extra strength you will gain from shoveling this winter.
Lie on your stomach with both arms by your hips, palms facing the ceiling. Lift your upper body and both legs. Hold for 30 seconds and then come down. Rest for another 30 seconds before repeating. This exercise may be repeated up to five times, preferably on the off days when you do not have to shovel any snow.
Avoid sudden muscle spasms and strains by practicing this simple and relaxing stretch before and after shoveling. Come onto your hands and knees. Simply stretch your hips back over your heels and rest your head on the floor or on a pillow. Stay in this pose for up to three minutes.
Bend your knees
Just as in the weight room, bending your knees when you shovel places more emphasis on your legs, rather than adding excess strain to your already hard working lower back.
Move from your core
Your arms will soon tire if you depend on them fully to carry the entire load of snow. Engage your core and let those strong muscles between your hips and ribs initiate each movement. You will have much more endurance and stamina by doing this. Sound familiar?
Switch it up by shoveling for a few minutes on one side and then a few minutes the other. You wouldn’t do 30 bicep curls with one arm and only 10 with the other, so stay in balance while shoveling, too.
Nothing tenses your muscles more than holding your breath when you workout, so make sure your breathing is rhythmic and consistent. As with lifting weights, you exhale on the exertion, i.e.: the moment you pick up that cement-like glob of snow on the end of your shovel, breathe out!
December 15th, 2011