The Right and Wrong Ways to Shovel Snow

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Snow can create a headache for many, especially when it comes to shoveling it.

When it first falls it can be beautiful and even fun for some that get to play in it.

But eventually it comes time to shovel it and that’s not always a walk in the park.

“Remember, snow shoveling is actually a very strenuous exercise and activity," said Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a family physician and associate professor at Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. "You have to use lots of muscles and snow can actually be heavier than you think.”

I think it’s really important to know your body. I think it’s important to know your underlying medical conditions.

And the storm that took place on Wednesday, March 7th, brought that heavy, wet snow, which is the worst kind when it comes to having to shovel it.

“Because, again, snow can be very heavy and it can cause a lot of strain and sprain when we’re trying to lift the snow," said Caudle. "It can cause a lot of pressure on our back[s] [and] strain on our muscles.” 

But your muscles aren’t the only concern.

“We also worry about the heart because it can also put some extra strain on [it] as well," said Caudle. "And sometimes we find that heart attacks sometimes increase around the times that there’s lots of snow shoveling.”

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So, she has some simple tips that will go a long way when it comes to staying safe while clearing that snow.

“I think it’s really important to know your body. I think it’s important to know your underlying medical conditions,” said Caudle.

And if you’re healthy enough, “It’s important to not use a large shovel," said Caudle.

"[It] seems like it would be the most efficient because you get rid of more snow quickly. But the idea is the more snow we put on our shovel the heavier it is and the harder it is on our bodies.” 

Secondly, if you can push the snow rather than lift it that’ll help alleviate some of the pressure.

“Finally, if you are going to shovel your own snow and you’re going to lift the snow make sure you’re lifting properly," said Caudle. "[Make sure] that you’re using proper mechanics to actually lift the snow so you can avoid injury.”

She recommends contacting a doctor to make sure you’re good to get to work on clearing the snow. 

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