Give Shoveling Injuries the Heave-Ho

Experts offer safety tips for clearing away the white stuff

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SATURDAY, Jan. 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- That fresh snowfall may look beautiful, but shoveling it from driveways can be dangerous and even deadly, experts warn.

The Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., offers the following advice on how to shovel safely:

  • Warm up. Before you shovel, warm up your muscles by doing light exercises for a few minutes.
  • Push, don't lift. Pushing snow to the side is less injury-inducing than lifting it. If you have to lift it, do it properly: Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with you legs, without bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow onto the shovel and walk to where you want to dump the snow.
  • Avoid twisting. Don't throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back.
  • Pick the right shovel. Use a shovel that matches your height and strength. Don't use a shovel that's too heavy or long. Space your hands on the shovel handle to increase your leverage.
  • Stay sure-footed. Wear boots with slip-resistant soles to prevent falls while shoveling.

"Snow shoveling is considered by many an aerobic activity, similar to lifting weights. Take frequent breaks, drink plenty of fluids and don't try to do too much at one time. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of possible heart attack, stop immediately and call for help," Dr. David Asprinio, chief of orthopedics at Westchester, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency offers tips on dealing with winter storms.

SOURCE: Westchester Medical Center, news release, Jan. 3, 2006


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