That snow weighs how much? How to avoid injuries

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February 4, 2014 3:20:56 PM PST
Not all snow is light and fluffy. In fact, the dense snow we got yesterday and are expecting more of tonight can actually be pretty heavy.

To find out just how heavy, photographer Jason Marraccini and I shoveled and filled this bin to the top with snow.

We cleared about 15 feet of a sidewalk in Fishtown.

Then at Penn Treaty Metals, we put it on the scale.

Altogether: 427 pounds. Take off 84 for the weight of the bin, and our snow pile weighed 343 pounds!

That's a lot of lifting, which is why physical therapist Justin Shaginaw, M.P.T., of Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute says proper body mechanics is vital.

"What most people do wrong is sort of bend at the waist, forward and then twist and throw," says Shaginaw.

He says that can easily lead to back sprains and strains.

Instead keep your back tall, bend with your knees and move your feet to turn and dump snow.

Also, if possible, try to just push the snow.

"So you don't want to lift, lift as little as possible," says Shaginaw.

Also a smaller shovel, or fill just a quarter or half of a larger one. It may take you longer but it will help save your back.

Shaginaw also recommends treating shoveling like a workout.: warm up before, and drink lots of water during the chore.

But if you have any heart problems. It's best to ask someone else do the shoveling.

"There is a lot of stress involved. It's uncommon but we've all heard of the person who's had a heart attack while outside shoveling snow," says Shaginaw

The National Safety Council goes further, even recommending anyone with heart problems get a doctor's OK before lifting a shovel.

Also, according to the NSC, you shouldn't shovel after eating or while smoking. Those also put too much strain on the heart.

And listen to your body. If you have any chest pain or shortness of breath, you need to stop shoveling and get to hospital.

For the National Safety Council's full list of tips: Shoveling Safely.

For more on Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, click here..


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