Snow Shoveling 101

Preparing for winter snow shoveling safety for you and your family.

As we prepare for this winter season, it’s hard to know what Old Man Winter has in store for us.  According to reports on accuweather.com, above normal snowfall is predicted for our area this season.  Snow can be fun and exciting for some people, but it is important to recognize that it can also be a potential hazard to our health. 

Did you know that shoveling snow injures thousands of people each year?  According to a study review from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine published on WebMD in January 2011, shoveling snow can lead to bad backs, broken bones, head injuries, or deadly heart problems.  According to that study, there is an average of more than 11,000 adults and children who present to hospitals with snow shoveling related injuries per year.  The most common injuries were “slip and falls” causing broken bones, head trauma from being struck by a shovel, and overworking of muscles causing sprains, strains, and back injuries.  Heart related problems are a less common cause of snow shoveling injuries (only 7%) but were responsible for all deaths.  Wow, that kind of news puts winter snow shoveling into a new perspective
for most of us, right?

Here are a few tips to help you and your family decrease your risk for injury when shoveling snow this season.  Prior to shoveling snow, make sure you are healthy enough to do so!   Ask your doctor if you have any risk factors for injuries and make sure they are addressed. Make sure that you have the snow shovel that works best for you.  Use a snow shovel that is light weight, has a comfortable handle, is adjustable in length, and has a curve in the pole for proper body position during use.   Dress warm, wear a snow hat, and check that your boots have good soles to reduce chances of slip and falls.  Warm up your body with some light exercises before heading out to shovel.  When shoveling, push the snow rather than lifting it.  If you have to lift snow, be certain that you are bending at your knees and are not throwing it over your shoulder. Bending
and twisting your body can lead to injury.  Remember to switch hands!  This
helps you to do an equal amount of work on both sides of your body and will
help prevent injuries.

Heavy snow this winter is likely to have an impact on all of
us, whether we like it or not!  It is important to recognize the inherent risks of shoveling snow but also remember that snow shoveling isn’t necessarily a chore… it can also be a fun way to get some exercise during the winter!  You should
know what your limitations are prior to starting the snow shoveling season in
order to prevent injuries or flare ups of previous injuries.  Here at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine of Newtown, we specialize in non-surgical orthopedic care and we can help make sure you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.  For more information on how Performance Spine and Sports Medicine of Newtown can help you and your family prevent and or manage injuries from snow shoveling this winter season you can visit our office at 828A Newtown-Yardley Road, website at www.sportsmedicinenewtownpa.com or contact me at mmclarnon@pssmnewtown.com.  



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