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5 Tips to Overcome the Post-Shoveling Aches and Pains

Now that you’ve shoveled your car out from two feet of snow {and then did it again after the snow plow came through}, let’s take a moment to assess the damage. Did you wake up this morning with sore arms and legs from lifting the heavy snow? What about your lower back -- is it aching from constantly twisting to dump the snow elsewhere? Luckily the muscle soreness should dissipate within a few days, here are a few tips from our in-house experts to jumpstart the recovery period.

Five Tips to Overcome the Post-Shoveling Aches and Pains
 

1. Epsom Salt.  A warm bath may help to chase away the frigid temperatures, but tossing in a capful of Epsom Salt will help to relieve muscle soreness. Dr. Schuler recommends this over-the-counter trick due to the high levels of magnesium.

“Our bodies absorb the magnesium found in Epsom Salt while we soak in the tub. The mineral helps to relax our swollen muscles by flushing the built up lactic acid which accumulates during physical exertion, like snow shoveling.”


2. Active Recovery. While paradoxical in nature, active recovery refers to an individual performing small, gentle workouts designed to increase blood circulation in the sore muscles. This could include a short walk or jog on the treadmill or, as VTFC’s Rehabilitative Fitness and Wellness expert Carrie Seifert suggests, a quick foam rolling session.

“Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that essentially involves massaging your muscles. Using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or even your hands, apply pressure to specific muscle groups for at least 30 seconds to soothe the stiffness that accompanies an overactive muscle. Foam rolling may also improve range of motion, ultimately helping to keep your muscles elastic and healthy.”


3. Eat Well. This tip is beneficial both before and after a snow shoveling session. Eating healthy is a no-brainer when it comes to wellness, but did you know the types of food you consume could aid in muscle recovery? Dr. Good explains how a diet of protein and complex carbohydrates could save you a few painful days.

    “Protein is comprised of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen -- or the amino acids that are the foundation of muscle. For this reason, consuming a large amount of protein prior to and following strenuous activity drastically impacts muscle growth and recovery. Similarly, complex carbohydrates help with muscle recovery because they help store water in muscle tissue. A hydrated muscle receives more nutrients, helping it to recover quickly.”


4. Ice it. “Should I apply ice or heat?” is a universal question when it comes to sore muscles. For optimal results, try alternating between the two. Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center offers succinct guidelines that explain the difference between the two.

    “After an injury, start by applying ice for the first 24-48 hours -- this helps to reduce bruising, pain, and inflammation. Place the ice back between a towel and apply for 20 minutes on sore muscles. After the first two days, alternate with heat to increase blood flow and relax tight muscles."


5. Rest. If all else fails, be patient. The tried and true method of muscle recovery is to simply give them time to bounce back. After a few days your body should be rested and ready for its comeback! If not, it’s time to consult a doctor

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