If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where it snows often and a lot during the winter months, then you probably have quite a bit of experience shoveling snow from your walkway, driveway, deck, patio, sidewalk, and other outdoor areas around your home.
Shovelling snow is always a good excuse to bundle up, get outside, and get a little extra physical activity, but it doesn’t always leave everyone feeling good afterward. For one thing, it can take its toll on your back — especially if the snow you’re shovelling is particularly heavy and you start making the mistake of lifting from your back more than lifting from your legs.
When snow shoveling season is in full swing, there are three things you should do:
1.) Practice shoveling with proper form.
2.) Take a break when you notice your form starting to suffer.
3.) Do some gentle yoga to help relieve an overworked and aching back.
The following yoga poses can help to stretch out the back side body and can be done after shoveling snow, but you may benefit from doing them before as well. Whether you work them into your current practice or just get down on the floor with your boots and parka on before you head outside, these poses will be sure to offer some much needed relief after a strenuous and snowy workout!
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
In addition to giving the back a bit of a stretch as well as being a super calming pose, standing forward bend will give your tired hamstrings, calves, and hips a nice stretch while working to strengthen the legs. You can bend your knees slightly to help deepen the stretch in your legs, making sure not to round the back or lock your knees.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Take your forward bend to the floor by sitting down and giving your back a nice long stretch while reaching your hands toward your toes, feet, ankles, or shins. Again, like standing forward bend, make sure you don’t round the back. Instead, hinge at the hips as you lower and lengthen your torso toward your thighs, dropping your head toward them.
Cobra or Upward Facing Dog (Bhujangasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
For a gentle backbend that flexes your back in the opposite direction after all that shoveling, go for cobra or upward dog. You’ll reduce stiffness in your lower back and strengthen your spine as you open up your chest. You may want to go slowly by starting with a small cobra pose and then working your way up to upward dog.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
For another pose that does wonders to stretch and relieve tension from the lower back, try bridge pose. You’ll also stretch your chest, neck, spine, and legs. You can also slide a block under your sacrum for some added support.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is good for almost everything, including the back, chest, shoulders, and legs. Your back will be nice and elongated while your hips will open up after a big snow shovelling job. This one is always a nice one to do last, because the extra calming effect from bringing your forehead to the ground will help soothe any remaining stress.
Stay as long as you want in any of these poses and be sure to modify after coming in from the freezing cold by going slow. Last but not least, give yourself a pat on the back for getting all that shoveling done!
Image (edited) via Nazmus Khandaker