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Helpful Tips for Shoveling Snow By Dr. Moshe Laub. B.P.T., D.C.

By for the most important tip to prevent injuries during snow shoveling is to treat it as a strenuous physical workout. Some experts say that snow shoveling is as strenuous on the body as running 9 miles per hour. You would not want to wake up early in the morning and dash out into the cold for a strenuous run without warming up your body. Stretching the muscles of the arms, back, shoulders, and legs before going out is of utmost importance for preventing injuries. According to the same concept, cooling down after shoveling with a good stretch again will prevent many possible injuries and soreness.

By far the most important tip to prevent injuries during snow shoveling is to treat it as a strenuous physical workout. Some experts say that snow shoveling is as strenuous on the body as running 9 miles per hour. You would not want to wake up early in the morning and dash out into the cold for a strenuous run without warming up your body.  Stretching the muscles of the arms, back, shoulders, and legs before going out is of utmost importance for preventing injuries. According to the same concept, cooling down after shoveling with a good stretch again will prevent many possible injuries and soreness.

Try to push the snow.  Avoid lifting it whenever possible.  I often suggest to my patients to mentally divide the driveway into a grid system where you traverse the shortest distance possible in order to be able to push to the edge instead of lifting. For example, when shoveling a driveway push the snow from side to side rather than length-wise.

When you are forced to lift the snow, bend at the knees, lift with your back straight. Your legs can either be shoulder width apart or one in front of the other. Try to lift smaller amounts of snow in the shovel rather than heavy loads that strain the lower back. 
  
When you must throw the snow and need to rotate, be sure to rotate the whole body and not just the upper body.  Try not to move in a quick jerky manner.

Just as with other strenuous activities you must be careful to breathe properly. A common mistake is to hold one's breath at critical moments and this can lead to a herniated disc. Pay attention and try exhaling during the exertion. For example, inhale while scooping the snow into the shovel and exhale when lifting it.

Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, is always a good practice, since it is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.

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