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Shovel Safely

All that snow could put a strain on you if you don't shovel the right way

THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Make sure you don't end up with a load of trouble from shoveling all that snow.

Shoveling is rigorous aerobic exercise that places great physical demands on the body, and you need to be properly prepared to do it, advises the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Here are some snow-shoveling injury prevention guidelines:

  • Warm-up your muscles by doing light exercises for 10 minutes before you pick up your shovel.
  • When you shovel, keep the shovel close to your body. Don't extend your arms when handling a shovel full of snow. That puts too much weight on your spine.
  • Try to keep the snow in front of you when pushing it.
  • If you have to lift a shovel full of snow, bend your knees, squat and lift with your legs. Don't bend your back.
  • Scoop up small amounts of snow and walk it to where you're dumping it. Don't toss snow over your shoulder or to the side. The ligaments and discs in your back are more prone to injury when you're in a twisted position.
  • Wear boots or shoes that have slip-resistant soles.
  • If there's a heavy snowfall, don't try to clear it all away at once.
  • Make sure you're well-rested and drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic liquids or non-caffeinated liquids before and after you shovel.

More information

North Dakota State University has more snow shoveling safety tips.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, December 2002
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