Shovel snow safely this winter

TOMS RIVER –Stretch and warm up first, bend your knees and take breaks when you start to feel discomfort.

Those were among the recommendations made by two physical therapists, Devon Fanelli and Heather Scannell of Kessler Rehabilitation Center, Toms River.  This was part of a program called “Snow Shoveling Safely” held Monday at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library.

“Eight out of 10 individuals will have back pain shoveling,’’ Fanelli said.  She said the first snow shovel each season yields many heart attacks.

The two therapists told the audience to make sure they gripped the shovel with one hand close to the blade and the other hand on the handle.  The shovel should be filled two thirds or less to avoid back injuries.

“Winter is on its way,’’ Fanelli said. She noted the importance of warming up and stretching before shoveling. “Keep your back straight or in a slight inward curve; it will decrease the pressure on your lower back when lifting.’’

Scannell stressed the need to keep the shovel close to your body when lifting and moving snow. When relocating the snow from the shovel, step and forward thrust in a straight motion.  “Avoid twisting your back and throwing the snow over your shoulders,’’ Scannell said.

“Snow shoveling is a cardiovascular and weightlifting exercise,’’ Scannell added. She said that the activity should be treated like a day at the gym and that people should take it slow if they are not in shape. “Once your body starts to feel sore take a break,’’ Scannell said. “The main thing is to be smart. Most injuries occur because people are in a rush to get to work or to get their children to school but it is better to be slower and safe.’’

 

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN SHOVELING SNOW

  • Take the time to warm up and stretch before shoveling and take frequent breaks.
  • Keep your back straight (or a slight inward curve); it will decrease the pressure on your low back when lifting.
  • Be sure to face the snow you plan to shovel and lift.
  • Keep the shovel close to your body when lifting and relocating the snow
  • Bend your knees, tighten your stomach and use your leg muscles when lifting snow. This will help divide the weight of the snow more evenly and help protect your back.
  • Eighty percent of all back injuries are a result of habit, not design.
  • Be sure the shovel is not over two thirds full with snow.
  • When emptying the shovel, step and forward thrust in a straight motion.

Source- The Kessler Rehabilitation Center, Toms River

For information about preventing back injuries contact Keller Rehabilitation Center at 732-914-8500.

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