Snow Shoveling 101: Shoveling Lessons

Let me introduce myself. I’m the Wiggle Writer, the personal trainer/author who teaches writers, or anyone chained to a desk, how to add movement to their day.

You’re busy. I get it. So busy, in fact, that your shape is starting to resemble your chair (think about it…). If you want an alternative, the solution is easy, but I’ll save that topic for another day.

Today’s discussion of snow shoveling techniques is motivated by the impending storm about to hit Connecticut tonight. We’ve only had a couple of inches fall on three separate occasions this winter, so all the Armchair Warriors who want to get some use out of their equipment are revved up and ready to go. (My husband is out re-plowing snow banks even as I type this. He says it’s to make room for the incoming snow. Sure it is. He just wants to strap that new plow onto his pickup truck. He’s not fooling anybody.)

Snow Shoveling 101: Shoveling Lessons with the Wiggle Writer, Deborah Ann DavisSnow Shoveling 101: Shoveling Lessons

To shovel, or not to shovel, that is the question. If you are desk-bound or sedentary, beware. Shoveling and pushing a snow blower increases your blood pressure and heart rate. The sudden cold of stepping outside your heated home constricts your blood vessels, which slows your blood circulation, which drops the amount of oxygen reaching your heart.

You get the picture. Take it easy.

SNOW SHOVELING LESSONS

If you are going to shovel for exercise, Wiggle Writer applauds you. But if you live in CT, you haven’t done much shoveling this year, so be a savvy shoveler.

This is how you convert shoveling from an overuse injury producer, into a healthy full-body workout:

FORM IS EVERYTHING!  If you cannot hold the proper form, REST. Do not compromise on this point, especially if you lead a sedentary life behind a computer or in front of a TV.

  1. Tighten your core.
  2. Bend from the Knees. Squat as low as you can, but don’t let your knees stick out past your toes.
  3. Shove the shovel  (so that’s where it got its name) into the light fluffy snow. (BTW, these are fluffy snow directions. Packed snow is approached in an entirely different fashion.) Exhale as you shove, then inhale.
  4. Holding your arms steady and your core tight, straighten your legs to a standing position, keeping the shovel level so the snow doesn’t return from whence it came. Exhale as you stand.
  5. Tighten your core and toss the snow out of the way. Exhale as you toss.
  6. Repeat 4-5 times.
  7. Adjust your grip, tighten your core and repeat on the other side.

(Oh, before I forget, do some inhaling in there, too.)

  1. Take a breather every 5 minutes or so. Look around at the beautiful whiteout or getting seeds to feed the birds (those little mosquito-eaters).

Did I mention…

FORM IS EVERYTHING! 

If you cannot hold the proper form, STOP and REST. Do not compromise on this point, especially if you lead a sedentary life behind a computer or in front of a TV.

SWITCH IT UP

The way to avoid an overuse injury (back, shoulders, etc.) is to change it up. If you have ever taken an exercise class, you know they do 4-15 repetitions (depending on their program of exercise), and then they switch to another exercise. Changing it up builds muscle and avoids overuse injuries.

Following the example set by the fitness industry, switch up your shoveling style.

  • Change sides.
  • Move your hands on the shovel.
  • Add a twist at the waist when dumping the snow to give your arms a rest.
  • Squat to different depths.
  • Vary the width between your feet.
  • Put one foot slightly more forward, then switch.

 Variety is the spice of life.

 

Segments of this article appeared in my blog, Merry Meddling, last year. With the snowstorm approaching, it seemed like a good idea to resurrect it. For more posts like this one, sign up for my blog.
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  1. […] So, we are agreed. Go shovel early in the storm. Come back inside, and for the next 6-8 hours, alternately rest up, and dance around and wiggle. Then gather the family for a second round of shoveling. For more information, check out Lesson 1! […]

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