There have been some rumblings about snow in the valley in time for Christmas! As a chiropractor two things run through my mind, number one; maybe some snow will be good for business and number two; it’s probably a good time for a few tips on snow shoveling.

Back when we were all young ‘studs’ or ‘studettes’ out in the prairies we could all probably shovel snow all day, seven days a week, all winter; however, that is probably no longer the case.

Our west coast living does not keep us ‘up’ on our snow shoveling conditioning so here are some important tips.

1.  Don’t rush the job, take your time

This is true for any new physically demanding job that you’re undertaking for the first time. Your body will need a bit of conditioning before you can really fire up the ‘shoveling guns’. Apparently, if you’re older and out of shape, your risk of having a heart attack in the hour after a vigorous snow shoveling session is increased 53 times!

2. Avoid coffee and nicotine before you shovel

These chemicals increase blood pressure and will increase the stress on your heart while you’re working. Better yet, quit smoking all together.

3. Start out small

When you’re starting out at the beginning of the season, use a smaller shovel or begin with small loads.

4. Start slow and build up the intensity

Hockey players go for a skate to get the blood moving before they play the game. That’s true for snow shoveling too.

5. Take lots of stretching breaks

Shoveling is tough work. Every five to ten minutes take a short ‘back’ stretch break. I like to stand up very straight, roll my shoulders, arch my back backwards a little, then get back at it.

6. Keep the ‘load’ close to your body

When you lift the shovel full of snow, keep your back straight and lift with your legs. Keep the shovel head close to your body; carry the load close to where you’re going to dump. Try not to twist your back as you work. To reduce your work even more, you can try ‘pushing’ the shovel to where you need to dump the snow. Get rid of that whole lifting process all together.

7. Stretch

Take a few minutes to stretch after the job is done. You may think you’re an athlete but shoveling is probably a new activity. Try and head off tomorrow’s stiffness with a five minute total body stretch today.

8. Dress in layers

Dress in layers that can be removed as you warm-up. In our country that may include a rain jacket.

9. Watch out for hidden ice

We know the video’s on America’s funniest video’s have a few very funny slip and falls section; I would hate to see you on one of them.

10. Watch out for warning signs

Watch for the warning signs of a heart attack and don’t be embarrassed to go to emergency. Warning signs include shortness of breath, burning pain in your chest or arms, dizziness, and unreasonable fear just to mention a few.

11. Get a check up

It doesn’t hurt to see your medical doctor (or your chiropractor) periodically for a physical. If you haven’t been for awhile, before the snow shoveling season is a good time.

12. Get help

The method I use to keep my back limber and healthy…get the kids to do the shoveling.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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