7 Tips For Staying Safe While Shoveling Snow

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Many of us began Monday morning the same way we began last Tuesday: shoveling snow, or maybe hefting a snow blower around.

Either way, it can be hard work, and even dangerous for people with weak hearts or bad backs.

"We basically see strains," says Dr. Carol Hartigan, the medical director at New England Baptist Hospital's spine center and rehabilitation program. "People who've been shoveling, sweeping, clearing snow, breaking up ice, cleaning off the car. Usually it's the low back, but it can also be the neck and the mid-back."

Many cities and town require homeowners to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice. So, how do we do that while avoiding injury?


Carey Goldberg, co-host of WBUR's CommonHealth blog. She tweets @commonhealth.

7 Tips For Staying Safe While Shoveling Snow

1. Have a plow shovel the driveway if you are older.

2. Use a back shovel with a curved handle so back bending is minimized.

3. Use your legs.

4. Turn with the snow to throw it, and trying not to throw it far away from the body. Keep the shovel close to the body.

5. Don't try to shovel the whole 24 to 27 inches that have accumulated. Just do a couple inches at a time.

6. Split up the job with family members — don't let one person do the whole job.

7. Pace yourself. Do a little, go inside, come back an hour later.


CommonHealth: Extreme Shoveling: Make Loads Even Smaller, And Other Tips From Spine Expert

  • "My back aches just thinking about it: An additional foot of snow, possibly followed by rain in some areas to add more weight to each shovel-full. This is back-blowing territory, made all the more perilous by the need for speed, to shovel out before night’s chill coats every snowy crenellation with ice."

This segment aired on February 2, 2015.


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