Snow Pains - Snow Gains
Most of the advice that’s available out there for shovelling our driveways comes in the form of “make sure you only do it this way” or “this is the proper technique to shovel” (even Home Depot can show you how that’s done!)
This is not that type of post.
The human body is incredibly resilient and designed to move in many different ways. When we restrict our body to move only in specific directions - that’s when problems often crop up. So please vary between different (but proper) techniques when shovelling! It’s a good thing!
**Tag us on IG @ontariophysioonline and show us how you shovel**
Why do we often get super sore after a big snow shovelling session?
That’s because it’s not a type of movement or activity that most of our bodies are used to doing every day (unless you’re in construction or landscaping). In strength training, we have a term called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which happens after a hard workout where your muscles ache like they’re on fire the next day (or even up to a few days). This is a very normal part of exercising. It does not necessarily mean you have done your body harm. In most cases, your muscles are just waking up to say “Hello!”.
DOMS often happen after seasonal activities, like snow shoveling, because your muscles just aren’t used to working that way on a daily basis or even at that specific intensity (I’m talking about those 30-40cm dump days!)
So how can you deal with DOMS?
1. Say “hi” back to your muscles - Acknowledge that they’ve done some good work and embrace the soreness (maybe even enjoy it a little bit). It can always be a reminder that you’ve had a really good exercise/workout session!
2. Keep moving - The WORST thing you can do for sore muscles is to stop moving altogether. This means stretching, walking, or other types of movements to keep those sore muscle groups active.
3. Break up your shoveling into multiple sessions - Shovel half of the driveway, take a little break, then come back to shovel the rest. This helps avoid overworking your muscle groups when trying to get it all done in one go.
4. Do it more often - This is for all those procrastinators out there who say “I’ll shovel today when it stops snowing”. Especially for the days where it just doesn’t seem to want to stop coming down - decrease the intensity/load by not waiting until the snow piles up.
5. Ask a family member, friend, or neighbour to help - Decrease the amount of time that your muscles have to work and the number of movement repetitions. It’s okay to ask for a hand!
If you ever feel like your pain/discomfort has moved past the typical symptoms of DOMS, seek advice from a physiotherapist! We’ll be able to spot the differences between DOMS or an actual injury and provide you with an easy exercise plan!
Written By: Danielle van Andel, PT