Safe Shoveling

There is the old-fashioned snow shovel and when it comes to shoveling people bend their knees, pull with their back and twist. Most possible the worst way to shovel. Doctors say that shovels with twisted handles can save your back. You just flip and turn the snow rather than physically lifting straight up with your back.

Doctor Paul Pilgrim says actual pressure measurements not the spine show bending down and reaching out with a conventional shovel increases the pressure of the discs ten fold. The increased workload stresses the heart as well. Even though you may be in good shape and work out on a treadmill, signs of heart stress may show up while shoveling snow because the upper part of the body is working overtime.

Some other reminders, stand with your feet firmly on the ground. Use specifically designed plastic rakes with extension arms to remove heavy snow from your roof. Watch out for water dripping behind rain gutters, making the pavement slick smack dab in front of your garage doors. And never try to clear a snowblower with your hand, even if the engine is off.

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Snow Shoveling Tips

  • Dress warmly, but don’t bundle. You want to move naturally and not make movements difficult or awkward.

  • Warm up and stretch before you start shoveling. Walk around with large arm movements to get the blood flowing and your body temperature up before you start.

  • Use a lightweight push shovel if possible. Also, spray your shovel with Teflon so the snow does not cling.

  • Always keep one hand close to the base of the shovel to balance weight of the lift and lessen the lower back strain.

  • Try to push the snow when possible. Avoid lifting and throwing snow any distance. Push or walk the snow to a pile.

  • Avoid sudden twists with your body. Try to move the entire body together as a unit.

  • Use your legs and bend your knees to help with leverage.

  • Work slowly, pace yourself. Shovel for five to seven minutes then rest for two or three minutes. Don’t wait until your tired or short of breath. If you start to fatigue, stop.

  • If you experience pain, stop immediately. Rest yourself for five to ten minutes. For any new injury, use ice and not heat. Apply ice packs ten minutes on, ten minutes off and 10 minutes on again to help start reducing inflammation.

  • If you have a health problem or are not in good shape, do not even consider snow shoveling. Find someone ahead of time to help. Don’t wait until there is a lot of snow on the ground before you figure out how to remove it.

Source: http://www.nih.gov (National Institute of Health Web site) contributed to this report.


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