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Posted on 02-15-2016

It’s that time of year, when we can wake up to find our sidewalks and driveways covered in inches or feet of Snow. The shoveling of snow can be hazardous to your health, because it is not only a lot of physical work to clear snow, it can be quite a strain on your back, legs, arms and even your heart.

Here are some suggestions for safe snow shoveling, that everyone can use despite their physical fitness level:

1) Take a few minutes to warm up and stretch your back, hamstrings, and shoulders to help prevent injury and to decrease soreness later on.

2) Make sure you bend from your hip and knees and not from your back. Do just as you would do when  you position yourself for a squat or to sit down in a chair. You lean your upper body forward from the hips, bend the knees, and balance your weight over the feet. Your butt reaches back towards the chair or the ground. This is exactly how you want to position yourself with snow shoveling.

3) Make sure you breathe. When we work hard there is the temptation to hold your breath, but this reduces the efficiency of your respiratory system. You need all the oxygen you can get to shovel snow.
Make sure you keep your spine in a neutral position. Try not to bend or arch past your mid-range comfort zone. Everyone has seen people shoveling snow with a rounded back, this position is very hard on your back.

4) Tighten your stomach muscles when you shovel to keep your spine in the right position. Do not twist and keep your shoulders over your hips at all times.

5) Make sure not to over reach too far. Be sure to work with the snow that is closest to you. By reaching too far you will add a strain to your lower back.

6) Make sure you lift from the legs. It’s the same thing you’re supposed to do when lifting a heavy box, by lifting the snow this way you will prevent over working the back and arms.

7) Make sure to take frequent rest breaks. Also, make sure to stay well hydrated.

If you already have a back condition or heart condition, then consider hiring someone to do the shoveling. Also, a snow blower may help keep you from injuring your back as well. Remember, keep yourself safe at all times.

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