Shoveling snow is a winter reality for many people around the world. There is a lot of information available on proper body mechanics to avoid back injury when shoveling snow. But, unfortunately, there aren’t many helpful clues for anyone recovering from tennis elbow and there are some things to know before you grab your shovel and step outside. So if you are recovering from tennis elbow and have no other options for cleaning your sidewalk or driveway, read on!
First of all, shoveling snow is a strenuous activity, so make sure your back, heart, and arms are up to the task before you even consider shoveling your sidewalk. Warm up your muscles before you begin. Specifically with tennis elbow, it is important to do forearm stretches. Holding your arm in front of you, palm down, place your other hand on the back of your hand and apply gentle pressure, bending the wrist towards the floor, stretching the extensor muscles of the forearm. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Now rotate the extended arm so that the palm is facing up, and apply pressure through the palm with your other hand, bending the wrist towards the floor again, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. These stretches are also good to do when you are done shoveling.
Now let’s take a look at the shovels. The lighter the shovel, the less stress your arm and back will be. The curved handles help keep your back straighter, allowing you to generate power through the legs and core. There are also shovels that have a “U” shaped handle, allowing you to push the show, using both arms equally, thus distributing the force between the two arms. With tennis elbow, it is important to keep your elbows bent and as close to the body as possible. This reduces elbow stress compared to pushing the shovel with straight elbows. Also, keep your grip light. The lighter the grip, the less strain on the elbow.
Take small shovels when shoveling, especially if the snow is wet and heavy. Divide the work into small sections and take frequent breaks, doing some forearm stretches. If you have a forearm strap or band, wear it for shoveling. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles strong, engaging the shoulders and shoulder blades, which are bigger and stronger than your forearm muscles.
One thing you NEVER want to do is break the ice. This is extremely aggravating for the elbow. The powerful gripping, lifting and jerking actions are a deadly combination if you have a tennis elbow.
When you are done shoveling, if you have elbow pain, apply a cold compress or put snow in a bag, wrapped in a pillowcase, on your elbow for 8-10 minutes. It helps reduce inflammation. Remember to listen to your body and respect what it tells you!
Source by Kathleen Papi-Baker