Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shoveling Snow? How to Protect Your Back (and Your Heart) - Chronic Pain - Health.com

Snow and ice can make driving treacherous, of course, but snowfall—especially the wet, heavy kind—can be dangerous even if you never leave your driveway. Each year, shoveling piles of snow after a storm is believed to cause tens of thousands of back and shoulder injuries in the United States, not to mention several hundred heart attacks.

Overall, more than 70,000 people ended up with a shoveling-related injury bad enough to trigger a doctor’s visit in 2008, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. A quarter of those people visited an emergency room, and about 900 were admitted to a hospital.

The exertion, cold weather, and slippery surfaces snow shovelers face are a dangerous combination, especially if it’s an activity you’re not used to. Snow shoveling "is one of the most high-intensity exercises you can do," says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. "You’re using all your major muscle groups."

But there are steps you can take to shovel safely and ensure that you survive the winter in one piece.

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