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Sore from shoveling snow? These 5 stretches will soothe aching muscles

Shoveling is a full-body workout. These stretches will help your body recover from the taxing movement and reduce soreness.

This weekend, millions of people in the Northeast will be impacted by winter weather. Come Sunday, they will be digging themselves out.

It may be a common task added to our to-do list during the winter months, but it’s important to remember that shoveling snow is a full-body workout. It requires leg strength, arm strength and core stability — and engages muscles that we may not have worked in awhile.

Research shows that shoveling snow burns a large number of calories — it counts as a workout! But few of us actually treat it like a workout. The first step to avoiding injury is warming up the body with some dynamic stretches and ensuring you’re shoveling snow with proper form. Once the driveway is clear, it’s about helping your body recover from the taxing movement and reducing soreness. There are plenty of exercises that can help you recover. Here are five of my favorite moves to do after an intense shoveling session. Remember to move slowly and hold each position for as long as needed.

1.  Cat and cow

Cat and cow helps relieve stress in the body and release the lower back muscles. Start on your hands and knees. Breathe in while lifting your head up toward the ceiling. Arch your back as you breathe in, moving your stomach toward the ground. Exhale while dropping your chin to your chest and pulling your abs in so that you arch your back toward the ceiling. Continue alternating back and forth.

2.  Thread the needle 

Thread the needle is a pose that stretches your back and shoulders. Starting in the same position as cat and cow, keep your hands flat on the mat beneath your shoulders. Lift your right arm straight up in the air, extending it toward the ceiling. Look up at the tips of your fingers. Then, bring your right arm down under your chest and thread it under your left arm until your right shoulder is resting on the floor. For a deeper stretch, straighten your left arm over your head with your fingertips on the mat in front of you.

3.  Shoulder stretch 

The cross-body shoulder stretch is a gentle move, making it perfect to perform when sore. Standing straight with your feet hip-width apart, stretch your right arm straight out in front of you and bring it across your body. Bend your left arm, hooking it below your right elbow. Use your left arm to pull the right arm into your chest and further across your body until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold here and then switch to your left arm.

4.  Quad stretch

The standing quad stretch allows you to move at your own pace and adjust the stretch as you go, which is why I love to incorporate it into my stretching routine after an intense workout. Standing with your feet together, bend your right knee and grab your right foot with your right hand. Pull your foot toward your glute until you feel a stretch in your quad. Feel free to hold onto a chair or wall with your left hand for balance. After holding, switch to your left side. 

5.  Figure Four

The figure four helps stretch and loosen the hips. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, making sure to keep your right foot flexed. Slowly lift your right leg and bring your left knee toward your upper body. Hold onto your hamstring with both hands and pull your leg toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your hip and glute. Hold before switching sides.