Don't let snow shoveling put you out of commission

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If you can, push the snow rather than lift it, and when you do shovel, don't bend from the waist - that puts the stress on your back. (WPVI)

When a snowstorm hits, Dr. Craig Rubenstein of Rothman Orthopedics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital says he sees all kinds of injuries.

"Back issues, a lot of shoulder issues from shoveling," said Dr. Rubenstein.

Many of the problems stem from bad technique or just overuse.

Dr Rubenstein says you're less likely to get hurt if you warm up before shoveling, and then take it easy at the start.

"Tackle some easier spots, some lighter snow, don't fill up your shovel the first few times," said Dr. Rubenstein.

If you can, push the snow rather than lift it, and when you do shovel, don't bend from the waist - that puts the stress on your back.

"You really should be trying to bend your knees and use your legs and sort of just short motions to get it out of the way instead of trying to throw it way over to the side," said Rubenstein.

He says that twisting and throwing can put a lot of wear and tear on your shoulders.

"The farther your arms get away from your body, the more you use your shoulders and your rotator cuff," said Dr. Rubenstein.

Also, don't overload the shovel - a cubic foot of average snow weighs 15 pounds. Wet snow weighs even more.

Of course, another big concern with shoveling is the heart.

If you are over age 55 or have a chronic medical condition, have someone else do the shoveling.

But at any age, be sure to listen to your body.

"The key is not to overexert yourself," said Dr. Seth Podolsky, an emergency medicine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic.

"If you ever feel any kind of chest discomfort, trouble breathing or general faintness, you want to stop what you're doing, take a rest, and if it continues call 911 and get seen in the nearest emergency department."

Sledding and other snow activities can also lead to injuries, but check these pointers from Moss Rehab of Elkins Park, Pa.check these pointers from Moss Rehab of Elkins Park, Pa. to keep winter fun.
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