I just want to let local readers know to be careful while shoveling snow. Also, if you have a history of heart problems, consult a family physician before shoveling. Heavy snow requires immense upper body exertion, which when combined with the blood-vessel constriction caused by cold air can cause a cardiovascular event. If you have any coronary disease, do not shovel.
Select proper footwear before heading outside. Proper footwear decreases the possibility of slipping and falling. Don't forget the power of warming up. Light stretching or even walking for several minutes beforehand can help loosen the muscles and increase blood flow and flexibility, which decreases the chance for spinal injury.
Try and find a shovel that lets you keep your spine straight while lifting. If a shovel is too long, the weight feels heavier and creates a longer lever. If a shovel is too short, you will have to bend further and work harder to lift the snow. Bend at the knees, not the waist. Using your legs to lift instead of your back will help reduce spinal injury. A significant number of injuries to the spine occur while lifting, bending or twisting the spine.
Once you have lifted the snow by using your legs instead of your back, try to maintain a straight line in your neck and spine and turn your whole body, instead of just your upper body.
If injury occurs during shoveling: 1. Stop shoveling! 2. Ice the affected area. Ice is recommended for the first 72 hours after an acute injury. Ice for 15-20 minutes every two or three hours. After three days, heat can be used with the same frequency (20 minutes every two-three hours). 3. If the pain lasts longer than three to five days, consult a medical professional.
Dr. John Revello