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Guidelines to safely shovel snow

With Michigan’s snow shoveling season upon us, the Michigan Primary Care Consortium is offering guidelines to avoid personal injury or a serious health care consequence.

Of special concerns are individuals facing chronic back challenges, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as being a tobacco user.

Snow shoveling is no different than any other physical activity. For your personal safety, consult with your physician to determine if snow shoveling is safe for you.

If there is a personal or physician concern, hire an individual to help you with shoveling.

Start slowly, work at a steady pace and take frequent breaks. Shoveling for extended periods of time will comprise your safety and health.

If you experience any pain or unusual symptoms, immediately stop and seek appropriate assistance.

Select the right shovel. A curved handle is recommended. A plastic blade tends to be lighter than a metal blade. And, a smaller blade picking up less snow is less stressful on your back and other body areas.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommend lifting snow in a squat position with legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift at your legs. Do not bend at the waist. When tossing the snow, this position should be in the direction you are throwing. Never throw snow over your shoulder. A snow packed shovel blade can weigh as much as 25 pounds.

Stay hydrated as you work outdoors. Best to avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and energy drinks.

Wear layered clothing that you can remove as you warm up. Be certain to wear insulated warm gloves or mittens, socks, and boots.

Warm up your muscles before journeying out to remove snow. Cold and tight muscles are more likely to sprain or strain. Consider a minor pre-stretching process.

Let a family member, neighbor, or friend know you will be outside shoveling snow.


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