January 22, 2011

The Dangers of Shoveling Snow!!!

The snow fall this winter has created many problems already.  Many towns are already at or above their budget for snow removal, I've personally witnessed two car accidents, and three of my clients have fallen because of the ice (fortunately... they're strong enough to get back up injury free ;-)

With all this snow, the snow removal business must be booming, but for those of us who have to get out there and shovel this stuff ourselves, it is now time to be thankful for the fact that you've being working out consistently.  I keep hearing these generalized statements on news like, "if you're over 40 you shouldn't shovel any snow."  Huh???  Now I'm not 40 years old and it will be a while before I get there, but a 40 year old man should be and is very capable of shoveling a lot of snow IF he has taken care of himself. 

How do I know this???  Because I train many 40 year old women that are very capable of getting out there and shoveling their fair share of snow.  Unfortunately, these general warnings are needed because most of our population is too unfit to do much more than sit at an office desk. 

So, ask yourself an honest question...  Are you confident that you can go out side and shovel a small driveway or walkway without any problems???  (Disclaimer: I am NOT challenging you to go outside to find out)

If you have not been weight training properly and doing consistent cardiovascular exercise then answer to this question is no.  So consider this, if you're capable of shoveling snow you can consider yourself to be more fit than most of our population.  If you can not shovel snow confidently because you run the serious risk of a heart attack or back injury then it's time to start taking care of your body.  Get your cholesterol and blood pressure down and improve you functional strength.  You can do this all with a healthy diet and a balanced and progressive exercise program.

A quick note on functional strength:
Balancing on one leg on an unstable device and doing curls is often called "functional" right.  Personal trainers will tell you this and some schools will even teach this, BUT what functional task does this exercise help you perform?  I'll be back with more of an explanation in another post, but the short answer is that this does not help you perform any functional task at all.  So when I speak of functional strength, I'm talking about taking an object that is an adequate load and moving it throughout the correct range of motion(i.e. actual weight lifting).

There are roughly 100 deaths and 11,500 emergency department visits annually because of shoveling snow.  These are not freak accidents.  This is yet another sign that we need to encourage our out of shape friends and family members that it's time to get moving again. 

Check out the statistics here  Snow Shoveling Injuries

For some snow shoveling tips from the American Physical Therapy Association click here



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