We knew that the snow would come sooner or later, didn’t we? This time it looks like it might be here to stay. So before you dust off those snow shovels this season, here are a few tips on how to care for your back before you head out to conquer the driveway.

Take a drink

Cold weather can make it harder to notice when we are dehydrated, so drink plenty of warm or room temperature water (we’re talking like 20 ounces or more) before you head outside.

Stretch it out

Before you pile on your layers of snow gear, take some moments for a few toe touches in order to stretch your hamstrings. Even just leaning over and letting your body weight hang for a minute can be really helpful. Remember, always stretch in the house were it’s warm and if you are “stretching” for less than 30 seconds, you aren’t actually stretching.

Give your back a break

Do you own one of those ergonomic shovels? That little curve in the shovel helps avoid bending down so far to lift the snow. Speaking of, don’t lift the snow with your back, lift and use your knees. Also, switching from side to side as you shovel is great for your back.

It’s not a race

Shoveling the driveway isn’t an Olympic sport, so give yourself a break every so often by standing up straight and reaching as tall as you can. Your neighbors might wonder what on earth you’re doing, but your back muscles will be sure to thank you later.

Warm up your kidneys

Your kidneys hate being cold, so once the shoveling work is complete, you can drink a cup of warm herbal tea (cinnamon & chamomile are great options, try to avoid mint) or take an Epsom salt bath to help warm the kidneys and support the recovery of your back muscles.

Feel free to repeat these shoveling tips as needed throughout the season. To learn more about winter and kidney season you might enjoy reading Your Kidneys Matter {gotta keep 'em warm} or Kick That Winter Cold Goodbye.