7 Stretches to Help Recover from Shoveling

Boston hit 100 inches of snow! If you live in this area, then you may be like so many who have been dealing with aches and pain from so much shoveling. It gets rigorous when you're trying to throw that snow 7 feet high! Check out my neighbor's backyard, it's insane!

So, what's ailing you, shoulders, back, maybe even elbows? I know those areas were certainly some hot zones for myself. So, how about give them some relief. Below are a few for each area to help with some of the common repetitive injuries that can occur after so much shoveling. (Forgive the awkward photos...)

ELBOW

Common Injuries: Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow (Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis)

Most likely you have heard of these conditions in the sport's world, but basically they occur with repetitive gripping and hand use.  They can especially occur when gripping and then lifting something heavy, and tendonitis can be very painful and take a long time to heal. So, how about cut it off at the pass and do these stretches after you've shoveled.

Tennis Elbow Stretch: Extend elbow and bend palm toward you wrap opp hand over your hand and stretch.

Tennis Elbow Stretch: Extend elbow and bend palm toward you wrap opp hand over your hand and stretch.

Golfer's Elbow Stretch: Extend elbow and bend palm away from you, opp hand pulls fingers toward you to stretch. (No I am not pregnant, awkward stretch of photo...)

Golfer's Elbow Stretch: Extend elbow and bend palm away from you, opp hand pulls fingers toward you to stretch. (No I am not pregnant, awkward stretch of photo...)

 

SHOULDER

Common Injuries: Impingement and Bicep Tendonitis

Pain around the front of the shoulder and difficulty raising your arm over head is common after repetitively lifting heavy weight overhead.  Try some of these stretches to help open up your shoulder, chest, and neck after all that forward movement from shoveling. Sometimes the pain can even radiate down into your arm and hand. If your pain is radiating into your arm, elbow or hand seriously consider seeing your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist to help centralize the pain.

Pec Stretch: Place arms on either side of a door frame or corner and then lean forward to stretch the front of the shoulders and chest.

Pec Stretch: Place arms on either side of a door frame or corner and then lean forward to stretch the front of the shoulders and chest.

 
Upper Trap Stretch: Neck and shoulder stretch (trust me!), place arm behind low back and take other hand on head and pull head to opposite direction.

Upper Trap Stretch: Neck and shoulder stretch (trust me!), place arm behind low back and take other hand on head and pull head to opposite direction.

LOW BACK

Common Injuries: Lumbar Strain and SI joint Dysfunction

Low back pain is a very prevalent condition that occurs in probably almost everyone at some point in their life. Back pain can be complex and I'll talk more about different conditions in later posts, but for now let's focus on just general achiness after a lot of bending from shoveling. Hopefully, when you're shoveling you are lifting with your legs and trying to limit bending forward. But I know it's very difficult not to bend forward at some point with shoveling and throwing all that heavy snow. If you develop back pain that causes radiating pain into your legs at all, please consult your doctor.

The following few stretches are my favorite stretches for low back pain, and I've experienced first hand how beneficial these stretches are. There's even an extra one in there for good measure.

Double Knee to Chest: Pull both knees into your chest for a stretch on your low back.

Double Knee to Chest: Pull both knees into your chest for a stretch on your low back.

Figure 4/Piriformis Stretch: Cross one foot over the opposite knee and pull the knee towards yourself to stretch the opposite hip.

Figure 4/Piriformis Stretch: Cross one foot over the opposite knee and pull the knee towards yourself to stretch the opposite hip.

Runner's Lunge/Hip Flexor Stretch: Half kneel and lean forward, keep pelvis/low back neutral to feel a stretch in the thigh that the knee is on the ground.

Runner's Lunge/Hip Flexor Stretch: Half kneel and lean forward, keep pelvis/low back neutral to feel a stretch in the thigh that the knee is on the ground.

Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with a belt/strap on foot straighten your leg keep quad muscle engaged and straight leg, pull leg towards to feel stretch behind your knee/thigh.

Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with a belt/strap on foot straighten your leg keep quad muscle engaged and straight leg, pull leg towards to feel stretch behind your knee/thigh.

 

I recommend that you hold these exercises for 30 seconds 1-2 reps as you can tolerate. If any pain persists though please consult your PCP and your own physical therapist. I hope that these stretches help you recover from all the hard work of clearing your driveways, sidewalks, and roofs. Please stay safe, and remember that to always consult your own medical professional if pain persists.

Have fun Stretching,

Natasha, DPT