How to shovel snow without getting hurt

Shoveling snow results in thousands of injuries every year.
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Shoveling snow results in thousands of injuries every year.

Yay we finally got a big snowfall. Boo we need to shovel it.

It's been a strenuous 24 hours for many Twin Cities and southern Minnesota homeowners, who have been out shoveling or blowing the foot-plus of white stuff that fell on Monday.

It's a requirement for homeowners in Minneapolis and St. Paul to clear the sidewalks outside their homes within 24 hours of a snowfall, and while 2-3 inches of snow is easy enough, what we got on Monday is a different proposition entirely.

A study released a couple of years back found that snow shoveling injuries send 11,000 Americans to hospital every year.

These included injuries caused by slips and falls, back problems, muscle strains, and overexertion that leads to heart stress and even heart attack particularly in older people.

So how do you shovel without finding yourself in the emergency room a short time later? We've picked out some safety tips.

Set your body right: As Time describes, you should keep the shovel and your limbs as close to your body as possible. Use your legs to push snow rather than throwing it, as this can cause you to twist your back.

Lift with your legs: Another back safety tip and it works for all lifting. Use your legs to push up so you're not putting undue stress on your spine.

Pick the right shovel: Popular mechanics says you want something that's sturdy but lightweight. Plastic shovels tend to be better for this than metal ones, ideally with an adjustable handle length as if it's too short it can cause back problems, too long and you can't push snow as easily.

Start early and take breaks: It's easier to shovel 3 inches of snow now, 3 inches later, and then 3 inches later again than it is to shovel 9 inches in one go. Take frequent breaks so you're not overexerting yourself too.

If you have a snowblower: Snowblowers make life easier for sure, but they're also dangerous machines in themselves. You should make sure it's shut off before you clear a clogged chute, and don't wear loose clothing that could get tangled in it.

Have the right footwear: Whether using a snowblower or a shovel, having a good pair of winter boots with decent traction will reduce the risk of a nasty slip.

Or just hire someone else to do it: Hey, at least your health isn't at risk then.

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