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Shoveling snow isn’t just winter’s most tedious task; it’s also tailor-made for throwing out your back. To help keep you on the slopes and off the heating pad, Chad Singleton, a personal fitness trainer with CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, explains how to turn the chore into a snow day.
1. Protect yourself from injury with regular sets of squats, lunges, and dead lifts—three exercises that target your lower body—and planks to strengthen your core.
2. Stretching first will increase your flexibility. It will also help you engage all your muscles instead of favoring—and possibly overusing—certain groups. Singleton likes thoracic spine stretches, wall slides, and toe touches.
3. Engage and tighten your core before each scoop by taking a deep breath and holding it. “Imagine standing on a beverage can,” Singleton says. “If it’s full, it can support you. If it has nothing in it, it will get crushed.”
4. Before you slide your shovel into the snow, bend your knees between 15 and 20 degrees. Once the spade is full, lift with your legs, making sure to use your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Exhale as you finish the full motion.
5. Overloading your shovel with snow can strain your back. So can twisting your body to toss the flakes aside. Instead, point your feet toward where you want to fling your haul. Repeat until the sidewalk is clear.