Alpine had a record 21” of snow in 24 hours yesterday. Yes, I shoveled ALL of it. If you are the snow blower at your house here’s a handy tip to keep your back pain free…alternate the sides that you shovel from. Go left, then right, then left, then right…and make stretching part of your warm up and cool down. Here’s how… Let It Snow!
I’ve lived in Utah most of my life. It’s diverse and I have come to LOVE and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us here! We have rivers for fishing, lakes for water sports, mountains for hiking, desert sand dunes, over half a dozen national parks in southern Utah alone, and of course arguably the greatest snow on earth! It hasn’t always been easy to appreciate the diversity. I used to like only the summer months. I’m a fair weather kinda gal. I like the sun and when I was young spent as much time as I could in the outdoors. When winter hit I shivered from December until April and secretly wished that like bears we could hibernate all winter long and emerge in the spring ready to feast and bask in the warmth of April’s sunshine.
If you can’t beat ‘em I always like to find a way to join ‘em. I had to turn my perspective around and learn to enjoy the winter months too. What I found is nothing short of amazing! I love to ski in the winter and in the last couple of years have taken up snow shoeing. It’s an inexpensive way to recreate outside and enjoy the snowy mountains. My winter essentials consist of warm gloves, winter outer wear, a pair of good snow shoes, and a butt sled. One of my favorite places to hike is up Horse Tail Falls. It’s a trail that starts on the east side of Alpine just past the rodeo
grounds. It’s steep – I like it that way…that’s why I bring the sled! For a 45 minute hike up it takes 12 minutes to sled down and it is a hoot! (I’m considering buying a helmet so I can go faster.)
If you feel stuck inside during the winter… take a walk or get up into the mountains for some fresh air! The higher you go the better off you are and you can usually get out of the inversion muck. Here’s to playing in the snow!
This season can be hard on the low back…especially if you don’t have a snow blower. I’ve already shoveled more snow this year than all of last year combined. Utah is having a stellar snow year!
If your low back is irritated and inflamed, here are some timely tips to keep your back feeling strong and healthy.
Maintain equivalency. In other words, if you do an activity using one side of the body, balance it out by doing it on the other. For instance, when snow shoveling, shovel and throw the snow over your right side and then repeat to the left. Balance. Shift which hand you hold the phone in or which leg you put more weight on while standing. Notice how you move in your day to pick up clues as to why the low back is in pain. Often when the motion is countered the low back pain goes away.
Photo: My Yoga Online on Flickr
Manage repetitive motion. There are some occupations that repeat motion on one side over and over again, like dentists and golfers. If that is a requirement for you at work, it can be difficult to maintain equivalency. Your job depends on repetitive motion to one side (like a right handed golf swing or leaning over a patient in the same direction). To counter this, take periodic breaks while working to counter the movement by stretching in the opposite direction. There are also exercises that you should do at the gym or in yoga that can counter the stress of repetitive motion. See your local yoga instructor for suggestions.
Photo: Lululemon Athletica
Stretch Tight Muscles. Tight quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips all contribute to low back pain. Sitting for long periods of time can cause stiffness in the hips and hamstrings and pull the low back into over stretch. Take a break from your desk and walk to loosen tight muscles. A regular yoga practice can keep you limber and alleviate stiffness that comes from repetitive motion or inactivity. Bottom line? Keep moving! Here are a couple of asanas to open the hips and stretch the low back: Hip and Low Back Stretches.
Strengthen Postural Muscles. Do you get that sagging sit back, relax and slump in your chair posture towards the end of the day? Maybe sooner? A strong back can help. Try this sequence of postures: Back Strengthening.