Tips offered to help avoid injuries when clearing snow
Getting ready to remove the sleet and snow from this week’s winter storm? Here are some tips from physical therapists at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Kreider Rehabilitation Services on how to help avoid injuries when shoveling snow:
• Before shoveling, prepare muscles with 10 minutes of light exercise.
• Wear light, layered, water-repellent clothing because it provides ventilation and insulation. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.
• Snow shoveling and blowing are aerobic activities. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, stop and seek emergency care.
• Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.
• Check with a doctor before shoveling if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, are a smoker or lead a sedentary life.
• If you have a history of back problems or heart problems, don’t shovel snow. Shoveling can trigger a heart attack in three ways: The increase in activity requires your heart to work harder; without realizing it, you may hold your breath as you lift, which can trigger a sudden rise in heart rate and blood pressure; and cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, so your heart has to pump more blood.