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Shovel Snow

Avoid Injury: Shovel Snow the Right Way

By Kristy Warren

Not all of us have access to a snow blower or plow, and shoveling snow manually is hard, physically taxing work. But did you know it can actually be dangerous to your heart and muscles when done improperly? Shoveling snow the wrong way can damage muscles, particularly in your lower back, and put life-threatening stress on your heart that could lead to a heart attack. 

Shovel snow safely to avoid stress and injury with these tips

Start gradually;
snow shoveling is vigorous exercise, so start slow and warm up your body for the first 5 minutes.

• Avoiding twisting side-to-side to throw snow over your shoulder.

 • Bend at the knees and maintain a straight back.

 • Lift with your legs, not your back; think of snow like lifting a package because heavy snowfall is just that: heavy!

 • Wear appropriate clothing; you'll be outside for a while, make sure you're protected from cold with warm clothes designed for outdoor winter temperatures: water-proof gloves, hat, scarf, heavy winter jacket, and insulated pants, preferably snow pants.

•  Take breaks; come inside to warm up throughout the process. Resting your muscles and regulating your body temperature and breathing will help you from overdoing it.

 • Hydrate: if cold water is unappetizing, try room-temperature water or hot tea. When we feel the sting of cold weather, we often brush aside the idea of working up a sweat, but staying hydrated during strenuous activity like shoveling snow is just as important as staying hydrated when working out, running, or mowing the lawn.

 • Enlist help with snow removal. If you have a lot of area to shovel, are elderly, or suffer from a physical condition, it is best to enlist the help of loved ones or to hire someone for snow removal.

 • Invest in a snow blower to cut down on manual snow shoveling if you live in an area that regularly sees significant snowfall.

 • Change into warm, dry clothes when you're done shoveling, and you guessed it, hydrate again!