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Tips for safe snow shovelling

Here in Canada we are all too familiar with the winter chore of removing snow from our sidewalks and driveways.

What a lot us fail to realize is that this activity is a rigorous aerobic activity that can be rather dangerous.

We can fall on slippery surfaces, overexert ourselves and strain our muscles, sprain joints and increase stress on our hearts; all these can be detrimental to our health and in extreme cases, fatal.

Optimal Therapies chiropractor, Dr. Greg Prete shares some tips that to avoid a bad day out in the snow.
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Sometimes the best health care can be preventative health care.

To begin, as with all exercise it is important to warm up before grabbing the shovel and starting to move snow around.

This can be as simple as performing some light stretching of your back, legs and upper body.

Next is the clothing that you wear; as always when you are in cold conditions, a multilayer look is most desirable as this allows for removal of a layer or two as your body heats up from the activity.

As for footwear, warm boots with good rubber treads helps with your traction, by providing grip when you are pushing heavy loads. Also helps to keep you upright when walking on slippery surfaces.

As for the shoveling itself, remember the following tips:

Shovel early and often. Newly fallen snow is lighter and easier to remove than trampled snow surfaces. Removing two inches requires less effort than waiting to shovel after four or five inches has fallen.

Push the snow rather than lifting. Keep the shovel close to your body and push it ahead of you at an angle similar to that of a snowplow’s shovel. If you have to lift snow, then bend at knees and use your legs to help lift.

Do not bend at the waist and rotate to throw the snow, this twisting action with an increased load will usually result in a muscle strain or perhaps worse.

Be able to see what you are doing. Blocking your vision with scarves or a hat may result in slipping or tripping.

Use the proper size shovel. Avoid using too large a shovel as this may encourage you to attempt lifting or moving larger amounts of snow than you are able to bear.

If you are over 30 years of age and the only aerobic exercise you get in a year is the odd game of golf (while walking) or cutting the lawn then you should seriously consider talking with your doctor before shoveling snow.

Finally the absolute sure way to avoid injury is to hire the neighborhood kid to do it for you. If this is not possible and you find yourself hurting from not taking these tips to heart, then you should come on over to Optimal Therapies where our many skilled professionals can fix you up and get you back to doing what you like to do.

— Dr. Greg Prete, Jan. 14, 2010