Chicago Winter Means One Thing….SNOW!

As a lifelong Chicago resident, Body Gears physical therapist Bradley Murison, PT, MPT, knows firsthand how brutal winter can be – complete with subzero temperatures, gusting winds, and plenty of wet, heavy snow. “As a physical therapist, I know the hazards that a Chicago winter also entails; slipping and falling on ice, throwing out your back, even suffering a heart attack while shoveling,” stated Murison.

Use these tips below to make shoveling snow a great winter exercise and not drudgery.  If you do end up feeling like you ‘pulled a hamstring’ or’ ‘threw out your back’, do not wait to see if it will go away. Body Gears physical therapists can help get you back to functioning without pain and tightness so you can get back out there and enjoy the winter!

*      Always wear the appropriate attire outdoors

  • Cover all exposed areas of skin for long durations outside
  • Dress in layers so can keep cool by removing outer layer if getting hot
  • Make sure to wear non slip boots or shoes

*      Prior to shoveling make sure to do a quick warm up

  • A short walk around the yard, or even better in your house to get the blood flowing
  • Do some dynamic stretching to prepare your muscles
  • If you are already seeking PT intervention, please perform your home exercise program at this time
  • Perform a core engagement exercise, to aid in your body’s self-protection mechanism
  • Stay hydrated! Even on a freezing cold day, your body can be dehydrated and lead to injury
  • To learn more stretches, click here

*      While shoveling make sure to have a plan

  • Have the right equipment handy
    • A snow blower will be the easiest, but a shovel that is long enough for you to hold without hunching over will work too
    • Make sure to have salt nearby to prevent slipping on ice
  • Start with the required areas of the driveway (ie: where you walk to and from car or mailbox, side-walk where school children walk, and to get in/out of your garage)
  • Do not be afraid to take breaks! Shoveling, especially heavy snow, is a demanding exercise. Be sure to take breaks, stay hydrated in order to avoid exhaustion
  • Always try to push the snow with the shovel. Use lifting the snow as a last resort to get it up and over the edge of driveway
  • When pushing the shovel make sure to switch hands and sides of shovel in order to utilize both sides of your body, thereby lowering the demand on your dominant side and decreasing risk of injury on that side
  • Lifting should be done with proper mechanics
    • Feet with a shoulder width base of support
    • Shovel close to your center of mass and in the direction that you will be lifting and dropping the snow
    • Lifting with your legs while utilizing a proper hip hinge to keep the back in a good position
    • Do NOT lift, turn and toss the snow over your shoulder! This is the quickest way to need a physical therapist

*      After shoveling make sure to put down a layer of salt to decrease chance of ice forming

*      Make sure that you also do a short cool-down

  • May be as easy as walking the driveway while salting
  • Doing some active stretching to ease muscle aches
  • And drink plenty of water! (In between some hot chocolate of course!)

Schedule an appointment online or call today: 877-709-1090.

Consider giving the gift of health, healing and recovery to someone you love by purchasing a Body Gears Gift Pack, available here.

Shoveling Snow logo 300x200 Chicago Winter Means One Thing....SNOW!