My house just got hit with an 18-inch snow storm. We lost power for two days, had no heat, had a half a dozen big trees come down and our phone is still not working. It’s seems like the winters are getting longer every year. One thing I have learned when it comes to big snow storms is not to shovel snow anymore. I learned my lesson years ago with numerous back and shoulder strains. Just because you lift weights and are in great shape does not mean you are in condition to shovel snow.
One of my most athletic, strong, flexible and fit clients hurt his back shoveling snow about 6 weeks ago and it took him a month to feel 100%. This is a good example of the principal called Specificity of Training which states that you are only conditioned for the type of specific training or sport you do. There is always some carry over for being physically fit but if you’re not used to being in a bent over position shoveling you are asking for trouble if you do it for more than a few minutes. Being fit can prevent you from having a heart attack while shoveling but it can also get you into orthopedic trouble. This is because you think you can do it and might not get as tired as an unconditional person, yet you can really hurt yourself.
You have to look at it like this. If a world class speed skater like Apolo Anton Ohno who’s been conditioning himself for short track speed skating decided to go play two hours of hard basketball, how do you think he would feel the next day? He would most likely be brutally sore no matter how well conditioned he is for skating. This is because the movements of basketball are different than the movements of skating. Therefore, if you’re in gold metal shape for skating you’re in non metal shape for basketball.
Just because you can bench 225 lbs, squat 315 lbs and run 5 miles without a problem does not mean you are conditioned to shovel snow for 2 hours. If you really want to shovel snow you need to condition yourself for it by mimicking the movements of snow shoveling or designing a progressive snow shoveling program. The problem with designing a progressive snow shoveling program is that you need to live in an area where there is consistent snow such as in Colorado or Montana; otherwise, you cannot design a progressive snow shoveling program.
In conclusion, and most importantly, no matter how fit and strong you are you still have to be careful. You must understand your body, know what you are and aren’t conditioned for, and be smart.
Let me know if you ever hurt yourself shoveling snow and how long it took you to get better.
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Best – Mike Cola