As winter bears down on the Midwest, millions of Americans will soon be shoveling driveways and sidewalks. While shoveling may be dreaded because it requires time and exertion in cold temperatures, it can also cause musculoskeletal injuries.
Following are some shoveling health tips from Rachel Franklin, DC, an assistant professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn.
* Listen to weather forecasts so you can allow enough time to shovel before work so you are able to take periodic breaks. The more rushed the job, the more likely you are to be injured.
* Layer your clothing to keep muscles warm and flexible.
* Warm up your muscles by stretching before shoveling.
* When shoveling, push the snow straight ahead and don't try to throw it.
* Walk snow to the snow bank and avoid twisting and turning motions.
* Bend your knees to lift when shoveling, letting the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, rather than your back.
* Stop shoveling if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath.
* Take a five-minute break to help your body recover and reenergize.
* If your muscles are sore after shoveling, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes several times a day. If the pain continues, consider visiting a doctor of chiropractic for care.