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Avoid Injury While Shoveling Snow

The snow has appeared in force this winter and that means shoveling driveways and sidewalks. Did you know that the way you stand or the shovel you choose can have an impact on your ability to avoid injury? According to Popular Science, having a neutral spine (your head neck and tailbone should all be in a line) can protect your back during shoveling. We've all heard the "lift with your legs" advice but actively engaging your core in the process will also help to protect your back.

Staring at the vast selection or shovels at the hardware store might feel overwhelming but there are ways to narrow down your choices. A shovel with a curve and a long handle will reduce the amount of bending required. A sharp metal edged tip can make breaking up ice covered walks more manageable as well.

Be aware of the strain and effort you are experiencing as you shovel. The colder temperatures will mask the amount of exertion involved. It is easy to become dehydrated while shoveling because you don't experience the same symptoms as you feel in warmer weather. Drink plenty of water. Take breaks and tackle small sections at a time.

Pay attention to signs of heart strain as well. Many people suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow because they aren't aware of the warning signs. Metro Health provides a list of risk factors, warning signs and tips to avoid heart-related incidents when shoveling snow.

Finally, and this advice comes from a friend who is a hand surgeon, if you are using a snowblower, do not ever put your hand near the blades to clear out snow, even if the snowblower is turned off. People think it is safe if the power is off but they have been seriously injured by the sharp blades. Use a stick or some other tool to remove built-up snow or wait until it melts.

If your job requires you to remove snow, follow the tips above as well as any safety procedures outlined by your employer. Be familiar with your company's worker's compensation plan in the event that you are injured.  

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