Safe snow shoveling

By Clare Schuld, R.N.

Shoveling snow can be dangerous and should be approached with caution. If you have lifting limitations or back problems, it might be best to hire someone to help you rather than take a chance of injuring yourself.

If, however, you are unable to do that and absolutely must shovel your own snow, keep these tips in mind:

 Select a shovel with a curved handle that is ergonomically tested and proven to decrease strain and pain on the back.

 Lift with your legs and not your back, keeping the load as close to the body as possible.

 Take small loads. Don’t try to accomplish too much too fast.  Avoid twisting at the waist, as this can lead to back trouble. Stand in an open stance — with one foot facing ahead and one facing out to the side.This will enable you to pivot easier as you lift and dump the snow.

 When you finish shoveling, relax and let the muscles calm down.Take a warm bath. Massage, heating pads, muscle relaxants, etc.can all help in avoiding the development of muscle spasms.

 If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, be sure to speak with your doctor to determine if there are any precautions you should be taking.

Clare Schuld, R.N., is the nurse navigator for the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center.