Snowmobiling And Body Mechanics

News Sherry King
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Editor: Sherry King is an occupational therapy student at Salt Lake Community College. She has been snowmobiling since she was seven years old.

Although it may seem that snowmobiling is not a very physically active sport, anyone who has spent a whole day on the trail or in the backcountry knows how sore you can feel the next day. There are many opportunities for self-injury that can be avoided by using proper body mechanics.

First of all, as the winter season approaches, it can be important to prepare yourself for the upcoming season. For younger riders or people with weaker hands, using a stress ball is a good way to strengthen the muscles in your hand for using the throttle and the brake. You can also exercise and tone the muscles in your arms so that pulling the starter is easier, too. Each season you have to tune up the engine on your snowmobile as well as your body.

 If you don't have the luxury of an electric starter, you will have to start the snowmobile by reaching down for the starter and pulling back as fast as you can to get the engine running. Position yourself so that when pulling the starter you aren't twisting at your hip and waist and instead are rotating your whole body. This decreases the chance of straining a muscle.

While riding on the trail on your snowmobile, sit so that your hips and legs are at a 90-degree angle and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle while keeping your back straight as well. Sitting with good posture like this will actually conserve energy as well as make your ride more comfortable.

If you like to ride off-trail, there is always a chance of getting your snowmobile stuck in the snow. Sometimes it happens when you are alone and you have no other option except to get it out yourself. A good idea would be to keep a shovel in the back of your snowmobile, in case the need to dig out arises. You have heard it time and time again, but lift with your legs and not your back. If you need to lift the end of your snowmobile out grab a hold of the bar in the back or a ski in front, keep your arms extended and locked in position and bend your knees to move it up and out. Don't lift with your back and don't twist your trunk.

Although these exercises and techniques may have been things you have heard before, they are beneficial if they are followed. Most of the injuries sustained from snowmobiling are avoidable and, depending on how severe they are, can prevent you from riding. These exercises can help you enjoy snowmobiling to its greatest potential. 

If you do suffer an injury, an occupational therapy practitioner can work with you to come up with techniques or modifications to help you have a safe and comfortable ride on your snowmobile. 

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