Fitness Article: First
the Snow, Then the Muscle Soreness…
© Goeller This article is not for reprint without
written permission from the author.
So think about it... You exercise at least three times
each week, you like what you see in the mirror, and you think you're in pretty
good shape. Right? You might look and feel great, but you have not specifically
trained for the task of shoveling.
The snow storm hits and you have to shovel the driveway, dig your car out, and
then maybe build a snowman. You move the snow quickly in the beginning and you
think it will be less dreadful than last winter's
snow storm so you keep up the pace. You do not stop to rest so you
shovel for hours, you then help the neighbors, and then you play with the kids
in the snow. And after that you go on with the rest of your day as if it
were like any other. Is shoveling after
a blizzard really like any other day? No. And you WILL feel it in the morning!
you know it was not like any other day because you might only shovel once each
winter, if that much. SO what happens after your day of nonstop activity in the
freezing weather? A few hours later the muscle stiffness kicks in and then you
realize that maybe you are not as fit as you thought. You are not in "shoveling
shape." You feel like you moved mountains (pun intended!) so you are satisfied
with your job, but you ache. You
probably think you can deal with a LITTLE stiffness or even soreness... until
the next day when you wake up and every muscle hurts. You can’t get out of bed
because you are so sore. Now what?
Your back, hamstrings, shoulders, arms, and muscles you did not realize that you
have are burning. It is intense, more than you expected. So why is it that you
are in "good shape" but you are so sore from shoveling? Think about it...
When you exercise at the gym you might perform 2-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions per
exercise. Maybe you perform 2-3 exercises per muscle group, but most people only
perform 1 set. So how many times on average during your last 10-20 workouts did
each muscle group contract? Yes, there is math involved in training. Do the math
with the highest possible numbers... 4 sets of each exercise x 15 reps in each
set = 60 reps per exercise. Then you perform 3 different exercises per muscle
group so it is 60 reps x 3 = 180. It is unlikely that you normally perform these
numbers, but possible. The total number of times your muscles have contracted
might be 180 times during a workout.
Now let's factor in for distractions such as the time
when you see someone at the gym and stop to talk, when you miss an exercise
because someone else is using the equipment, or for those days when you miss a
workout completely. So maybe you have not been doing as much as 180 reps per
muscle group each workout or maybe you have only performed 2 sets of each
exercise x 15 reps in each set, a total of 30 reps per exercise. You only
perform one exercise per muscle group so the total number of muscle contractions
is only 30 for the workout. That is more typical for the average fitness
enthusiast and so much less than a day of shoveling. Remember, it only adds up
to 30 reps per muscle group.
So, why all of the math when we are discussing exercise and snow? Have you
counted the number of times you squatted, lifted snow with the shovel, returned
to the standing position, and then threw the snow? Remember, that is NOT the
same as a simple body weight squat exercise. It is not even the same as
performing traditional squats with either dumbbells or a barbell. There was a
large amount of weight (resistance) involved with each repetition, the movements
were not typical of your regular exercises, and there were too many repetitions
for your fitness level. Were the shovels full of snow heavier than you
normally use for exercise? I'd bet they were and definitely not the correct
amount of resistance for your fitness level. Have you weighed a shovel full of
snow lately? You might be surprised at how much snow you lifted, tossed, and
lifted again without even thinking about it.
Think about it. You may have been out there shoveling nonstop for two or more
hours. Do you normally exercise NONSTOP at the gym for two hours, forget to
drink fluids, and use much more resistance than the recommended amount of
weight? How many times did you lift a shovel filled with snow, walk with it,
and then toss the snow somewhere else? Your regular exercise routine, using
traditional exercises, does not prepare you for the high number of repetitions
or the awkward movements that you performed when you were out there
shoveling. Shoveling or performing any movement for more than 20
repetitions nonstop requires muscle endurance besides strength. Most people who
exercise a few times each week prepare for either strength or weight loss, not
for muscle endurance. So you have literally over worked your muscles and you ARE
paying for it with intense soreness or pain. (You should seek medical attention
if you are in pain.)
You may only need a few days rest, but there are other things you can do to feel
a little more comfortable. Take a warm bath for at least 20 minutes and then
GENTLY stretch to ease the stiffness. If you are not sure how to stretch the
muscles that are stiff I can help you in person or you can check out the
stretching workout at www.Legs-Plus.com.
And while you are there, check out the Legs Plus workouts because they
will help better prepare you for sudden changes in your activity level,
including shoveling snow! Be sure to drink plenty of fluids because you may have
There is a group of people out there who may not be so sore from suddenly
shoveling for two hours, athletes. Many athletes already train for muscle
endurance. Gymnasts, soccer players, skaters, and long distance runners, to name
a few, train for muscle endurance. Why mention athletes? You may want to ask
an athlete for help shoveling the next time it snows. Or better yet, start
training like one! Of course, if you need help with training you can contact
me directly. I train clients through email and in person. The information on my
training services is at www.StrengthTeacher.com.
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