The next day, maybe the groceries were running low. Maybe you had to go back to work—but in any case, a giant berm in front of your driveway, left by the snowplow, meant the shoveling effort had to hit DEFCON 1. Suddenly, shoveling snow was no magical task, but a grueling effort. If you have a snowblower, good on ya. But if you've been removing snow with a shovel, chances are your back and shoulders have been suffering ever since this heavy snow hit. Some basic body exercises may offer some relief.
According to the American Heart Association, shoveling snow can put certain people at risk of heart attacks—including those who are sedentary and people with existing heart conditions including heart failure, high blood pressure or cholesterol. Those people should talk with their health care provider before doing anything requiring a lot of sudden exertion. If you're someone who's in physical therapy, consulting your physician or PT is also a good idea.
But for those who weren't experiencing major pain or physical issues before this, we asked Suzie Newcome, founder and co-owner of the Namaspa Yoga Community, for a few poses to do to alleviate that soreness. Here's what she had to say:
"I chose poses that target the low back and shoulders, as these are the primary areas that take a beating due to snow shoveling. These are all easy to follow and gentle for any body or physical condition, and can be done at home. It would be good to do these before shoveling and (even more importantly) after shoveling to help loosen up and oxygenate fatigued muscles.
1st pose: Child's PoseTarget: Low back & shoulders
Optional: Walk your hands as far as you can to one side and press back in to the opposite hip to stretch the side body. Take a few deep breaths, then slowly change to the other side.
2nd pose: Cat / Cow PoseTarget: Entire spine
Optional: Bring your spine back to neutral and move your right ear toward your right hip, making a "c" with the spine. Repeat on the other side, moving with breath.
3rd pose: Thread the NeedleTarget: Spine and Shoulders
Optional: Lift your other hand up toward the ceiling, and rotate that arm in small circles in one direction, and then the other.
4th pose: Straddle Fold with Arm Bind
Optional: With your hands on the floor, walk them to your right foot, and lift your right arm up to twist. Repeat on the other side.
5th pose: Supported Fish
Optional: Press the soles of your feet together and allow the knees to fall apart to stretch the inner thighs. If this is too intense, you can put blocks or pillows under your knees."