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Your Whole Health: Tips for Safely Shoveling Snow

A winter snowfall is magical, but the task of clearing driveways and sidewalks should be approached carefully. According to a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, an average of 11,000 individuals visit the hospital each year with snow shoveling-related injuries and the task causes approximately 100 deaths each year.

Among the most common snow shoveling-related injuries, the study listed heart problems, overworked muscles, broken bones, cuts and being hit with the shovel, along with injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues. Lower back injuries were also prominent.

For chiropractors treating patients with lower back injuries due to snow shoveling, consider the following tips from William Hogarth, DC, MBS and lead clinician at Logan University’s Mid Rivers Health Center to guide patients in preventing future mishaps.

  • If the snow is thick, heavy or wet, push it instead of shoveling it.
  • When you shovel, use your whole body, especially your legs.
  • Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
  • Wear layers. If you begin to sweat, you have too many clothes on and should remove a layer. Sweating while snow shoveling is more than a discomfort – it can lead to chest, arm or jaw pain. This can indicate heart-related issues such as a heart attack.
  • If you can, hire a local kid to do the work for you, and enjoy the beauty of winter!