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Snow Shoveling Safety

With a big winter storm headed to the East Coast this weekend, we wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone to practice safe shoveling! The good news is that shoveling counts as moderate physical activity and can burn 250 calories in 30 minutes. That being said, it is a workout and can cause strains, spasms, tears, broken bones, and event heart attacks. Snow shoveling injuries sent over 11,500 Americans to the emergency room each year!

15% are head injuries. People whack themselves in the head with the shovel and that can cause a laceration.

7% are heart problems. Shoveling can produce a quick rise in heart rate and blood pressure and can cause chest pains, arrhythmia, palpitations, and heart attacks, especially to a person who isn't normally very physically active.

16% are hand and arm injuries- particularly broken bones.

34% are back injuries. Shoveling can cause damage to the soft tissue, especially in the lower back.

11% are leg and feet injuries. Legs and feet can really get banged up when you slip and fall.

There are steps you can take to avoid these injuries and stay safe while you are shoveling.

* Don't rush! Give yourself plenty of time so you aren't in a hurry. If you know you will need to shovel in the morning before work, prepare in advance and set your alarm earlier so you have ample time.

*Layer warm clothes to keep your muscles warm and flexible.

*Wear proper boots or warm, non-slip shoes to avoid slipping and falling.

*Do warm-up stretches. Make sure you stretch your arms, shoulders, back and legs. Here are some pictures of different stretches that can do and which muscles they help to stretch.

*Push the snow straight ahead into the snowbank, don't throw the snow. You especially want to avoid twisting and throwing the snow over your back or head.

*Bend at the knees, keep your feet apart in the scissor stance, and keep your back flat. Let your leg and arm muscles do the work instead of your back.

*Take frequent breaks to alleviate strain from your muscles. A body that is fatigued is more likely to sustain injuries.

*Stay hydrated. You may be cold and not feel like you are thirsty, but just like any workout, it is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after.

*If you do have a sore muscle after shoveling, apply ice for 20 minutes, take a break for a few hours, then repeat. This can be repeated over the next day or two if needed.

*STOP IMMEDIATELY if you feel any shortness of breath or chest pain. You don't want to take any risks with that and you may need to seek medical attention immediately.

We can't change the weather, but we can take proper precautions to make sure we stay safe and healthy. If you do have sore muscles or an aching back from shoveling, a visit to your chiropractor and/or massage therapist can help alleviate your pain. Dr. Andrew and our licensed massage therapists will be happy to check you out, make you feel better, and make sure that there isn't any further damage beyond sore muscles.

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