Snow Woes and Pros

You may have heard of the “Bomb Cyclone” hurricane-style blizzard we on the East Coast were treated to yesterday. To the hardy New Englander, the snow totals were no biggie. It was the wind and the storm surge that caused the most problems. A significant storm surge is essentially a tsunami. I have never seen flooding like they had yesterday. Many seashore towns were inundated. We were lucky to only have sixteen inches of snow.

Still… there’s shoveling. Now, I truly enjoy exercising outdoors in the cold and snow. Running in a snowstorm is particularly thrilling. Cross country skiing? Love it. And, seriously, I feel the same about shoveling. It’s a great workout, if one is in decent shape and uses proper form. (*Important doctor’s note: Snow shoveling is decidedly NOT the best workout for most folks with active back and neck issues, or who are at risk for heart attacks, or who are so out of shape that they don’t know if they are at risk for heart attacks. See the excellent Harvard Health Blog post on this by Dr. Robert Shmerling. )

But. Even I was almost in tears when I emerged from our cozy home at 5:45 a.m. today, and saw the ginormous wall of frozen snow at the end of our driveway.

Hubby and I had cleared the stairs, cars, front sidewalk and the entire driveway hours earlier. But, snowplows.

The issue was not the amount of snow (I scoff at snow! I love shoveling!) but the fact that it was below zero degrees and that stuff was frozen solid. A three foot tall solid wall of basically ice.

But hey, what do you do? I got to work. Yes, I have chronic low back pain and sciatica and yes, said pain even woke me from deep sleep overnight last night. But I know that what makes my pain worse is sitting and lying down. Stretching and core strengthening exercises help. (*Doctor’s note: stretching and core strengthening actually can help everyone with uncomplicated musculoskeletal back pain. See my Harvard Health Blog post on this.)

So I started my car and left it to warm, then did some stretching, right there in the driveway, in the dark. Limbered up, I grabbed my shovel, and started chopping.

Yup, chopping. Standing straight, I lifted the shovel and stabbed it down into the mound, again and again. Once the mound was minced, I bent my knees whilst keeping my back perfectly straight (remember Lift with your legs and not with your back? That.), scooped up a pile, and delivered it to the yard. To the yard, not the sides of the driveway, because then it would roll back down in the driveway or into the street.

Here I am, thirty minutes later, toasty warm and proud of my handiwork, with the remainder of the plow mound behind me:

It’s been a few hours and I’m still feeling good. And accomplished!

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