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Time to get ready for snow blowing and shoveling. Your preparation should include knowing the dos and don’ts of this inevitable winter activity to prevent strains and sprains, and slips and falls.

The overextension of muscles and poor body mechanics are largely to blame for shoveling injuries. Common injuries include a back or wrist strain, pulled muscle, a stress fracture, or even a rotator cuff tear from a fall on the ice. These can cause chronic pain, downtime at work and home, and hefty medical expenses.

Snow blowing can also be hazardous. Remember: Never stick your hands in the snow blower. If snow jams the snow blower, stop the engine and wait more than five seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.

Here are a few more tips from Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron to help you avoid injury this winter:

Check with your doctor:   If you have a medical condition or are concerned about your health, talk with your doctor before shoveling.

Stretch:  “Warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with stretching and light exercise,” says Dr. Gary G. Doss, specialist at Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron. “While shoveling, take frequent breaks and stretch your back by leaning backward.”

Pace yourself:   Snow shoveling is an aerobic activity. Take breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or have any pain, stop right away and call your doctor or seek emergency care by calling 911.

Use proper lifting technique:   Lifting a shovelful of snow should be done with your legs, not your back. Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and lift the snow by straightening your knees.

Use a good shovel:   Invest in a light, plastic shovel, and one that is the right length for you. Shovels with a built-in curve are less strenuous on your back than the straight, broomstick style.

Watch for ice:   As you shovel, watch for ice under snow that can cause you to slip and fall.

Shovel right away:   Shovel as soon as possible after the snow has fallen. Newly fallen snow is lighter than heavily packed or partially melted snow.

Wear proper attire:   Dress in layers. If you get too warm, you can always take off a layer. Footwear should have soles that will grip slippery surfaces to prevent falling.

To consult with one of our doctors at Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron, please call (810) 985-4900 or click on the Appointment Request button.