Saturday, February 06, 2010

Preventing Snow Shoveling Injuries

  Over 30,000 people each year are treated for injuries that occur while shoveling or removing ice and snow manually; and another 5,000 are injured while using snow blowers.  These types of injuries range from sprains to heart attacks.  There are several things you can do to prevent these types of injuries.

Muck Arctic Boots

Dress for Success!

  You will need to dress appropriately.  Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation.  It is also important to wear the appropriate head coverings, as well as gloves and thick, warm socks.  Also, you will need snow boots with slip-resistant  soles that will keep your feet warm and dry while providing the necessary traction needed to prevent slipping and falling. 

Sno-Dozer Snow Shovel

Selecting a Shovel

Shovels are made from different materials and come in many shapes and sizes.  Choose a shovel that is ergonomically correct.  These shovels help you to keep your back straighter reducing spinal stress.  It is far easier to push snow than to lift it!  There are shovels made expressly for pushing snow.  Once you have your shovel, you might want to consider spraying a bit of silicon lubricant on the blade.  This can help keep the snow from sticking to the shovel; the snow will slide off the shovel blade.

Snow clad trees

Technique. Technique. Technique.

Warm muscles work better.  So take some time to stretch to prepare your body for activity.  Do not throw snow over your shoulder!  Go forward with the snow.  Fresh snow is lighter in weight - so clear snow as soon as it has fallen.  Snow becomes dense as it compacts on the ground.  Wet snow if very heavy.  One shovelful can weigh 20 pounds or more!  Pace yourself; take frequent brakes to stretch your back and extremities.

And on that note...

Shoveling snow remains a frequent cause of back injuries.  Injuries are not only limited to the musculoskeletal system but excessive shoveling may also place undue stress on the cardiovascular system.  At any hint of shortness of breath or chest pain, shoveling should cease immediately and, if symptoms persist, medical attention sought.

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