Each winter, thousands of people go to the emergency room or an orthopedic specialist because of injuries related to snow removal. It’s particularly common to sprain or strain the back or shoulder muscles while shoveling snow due to the bending and twisting motions. Orthopedic surgeons strongly recommend taking a few precautionary measures before picking up a shovel this winter.
Talk to Your Doctor If you have a medical condition, such as cardiovascular disease, talk to your doctor before shoveling snow. Your doctor can let you know if it’s safe for you to do this type of manual labor. If not, hire someone else to shovel snow for you.
Stretch Your Muscles Shoveling is an intense workout. Before heading out the door, take a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles. Doing so can reduce your risk of developing an orthopedic injury. Remember to stretch after shoveling as well.
Allow Plenty of Time If the meteorologists are predicting more than a few inches, plan to start shoveling snow early in the storm. You’re less likely to suffer an orthopedic injury if you shovel a few inches at a time, rather than waiting for all of the snow to fall. Pace yourself, taking frequent breaks to catch your breath and stretch. Go indoors periodically to warm up and let your muscles rest.
Use the Right Gear Make sure you have the right equipment for the job. Orthopedic surgeons recommend investing in an ergonomic shovel. Avoid purchasing a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you to use comfortably. Additionally, wear boots with a deep tread and other winter weather clothing.
Use the Right Techniques Use proper lifting techniques to lower your risk of an orthopedic injury . Whenever possible, push the snow along the ground, rather than carrying it across a driveway. Lift with your legs by squatting instead of bending your back, and only lift small loads of snow at a time. When throwing the snow, keep your back straight; never twist your torso.
If you do suffer an orthopedic injury, let the caring team at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine help. Schedule an appointment with our practice in Forest Hills by calling (347) 537-2404, or visit our website for some helpful health information.