Snow Shoveling Tips: How to Avoid Injury

February 27, 2013 3:39:45 PM PST
Did you deal with the snow in your driveway yet? This is not child's play.

The heavy, wet snow the Chicago area received is commonly referred to as "heart attack snow" for a reason.

Medical experts have come to recognize how traumatic this basic ritual of removing snow can be on your muscles, back, bones and even your heart.

There is a right and wrong way to remove snow. First, just like a workout, you need to warm up five to 10 minutes beforehand to get your joints moving and increase blood circulation. Once you've done that, push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible.

If you need to get the snow off to the side, move your feet, don't twist.

Try to keep the shovel close to your body and bend at the knees.

Don't lift the snow with your back.

Chicago chiropractor Lavar Larks says all it takes is a couple of bad moves before your body is out of whack.

"One of the most common mistakes that people make outside of lifting with their back is trying to bend down with their back and then turn with that weight," Larks said. "That is one of the most common ways people have injuries with low back pain, whether it's a herniated disc or a bulging disc, and that is what is going to set you up for failure if you have an unstable structure."

Don't overwork yourself. If you are huffing and puffing, stop and take a rest.

And consider this before shoveling: Those most at risk for heart attack are smokers, those with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and anyone who has had a previous heart attack.