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Before you know it, snow will be here in the Denver metro area. With that, comes the dreaded task of shoveling. Each year, there are more than 11,000 snow shoveling related injuries. So here’s some advice from trainer Doug Quinlivan from Ascent Fitness if you want to avoid popping Advil.

The joys of the season come in snow-capped mountains, sledding, skiing, snowboarding, but perhaps not shoveling.

“Snow blower or hire the kid down the street, $20, there you go, done,” said Doug of Ascent Fitness.

It may not be your favorite pastime, but, it’s even worse if you end up hurting yourself.

“It’s that particular movement when you shovel and come up and twist so now you’re putting a load on your back and twisting at the same time.”

Doug said you can start prepping now to avoid injury by replicating that motion in a controlled manner to strengthen those muscles.

Grab a set of dumbbells, squat down to pick them up and in one motion, twist up to one side while you straighten your legs. Doug said, “You’re just going to pick up the dumbbells, and then just stand up and you’re going to rotate.”

Another way to strengthen your back is a straight leg dead lift with a twist.  “You don’t want to stand straight up and then twist you want to be twisting as you’re coming up,” Doug said.

He said even though we should bend our knees to pick something up, we rarely do, so this move simulates those real life situations that often end in back pain.

Another move that will help work those muscles along your spine is a seated back extension.  “This is a good, stable safe way to get some exercise on your lower back.” Just make sure to go all the way back and forward, to where your elbows almost touch your knees.

Finally, the wood chopper.

Doug said,  “So, after you’ve shoveled your snow, you want to fire the fireplace and go chop some wood, you want to make sure you do these exercises leading up to it.”

Put them all together and you should be ready for the fun and work of the season.