Shoveling Snow…the right way!

There are few things nicer in nature than a new fallen snow, but nothing more dangerous as well. Each year, we hear about the numerous heart attacks and strokes that occur as the result of overexertion. The tragedy of the fatal or near-fatal result of an apparently healthy person succumbing to shoveling snow trends to overshadow a hazard that is even more common. The same snow which causes heart stress also causes dangerous spinal disc stress to the shoveler. When considering that a shovel of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds, one must realize the tremendous cumulative weight necessary to lift to clear an area. The average driveway or walk will hold hundreds of pounds of snow. Snow seems to present a challenge to most shovelers. The cold air invigorates them to action and at the same time numbs their sense of pain and fatigue, masking the severity of sprain
and strain.

We recommend the following rules to guard against the snow-shoveler syndrome:

1. Dress warmly, but don’t bundle up so as to make it difficult and awkward to move naturally.

2. Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel or ergonomic shovel. Spray it with Teflon so snow will not cling to it.

3. Try not to lift the snow or pitch it. Merely push it into a pile.

4. Avoid sudden twists of the torso. Move the entire body.

5. Keep your back straight when you lift. Use your legs rather than your back.

6. Work slowly.

7. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stand up straight and breathe deeply.

8. If you feel a twinge of back pain, stop completely and go inside the house, sit down and rest. If pain persists, see a doctor of chiropractic immediately.

When negotiating a fresh snow, we need to use common sense and wisdom. It is much wiser for us to use our head, instead of the backs!

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