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Shovel Trouble: The Most Common Injuries And How To Protect Yourself

Snowflakes are beautiful until you need to move billions of them from point A to point B. Then they become downright dangerous. A 17-year study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine notes that 11,500 people, the majority of them men, visit Emergency Rooms every year with injuries related to shoveling snow. Here are the most common injuries with strategies to protect yourself. 

  • 54% acute musculo-skeletal exertion 

  • Always try to push the pile instead of lifting it. When you do need to lift, avoid twisting your back, bend at the knees, and turn your entire body to deposit the load, says Michael Schafer, M.D., a professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University.
  • 20% slips and falls 

  • Do your boots have good tread? Did you scatter rock salt on bare areas? Now focus on your posture. "Keep your feet shower width apart so your center of gravity stays close to your core," says Michael Marks, M.D., a Connecticut based orthopedic surgeon.
  • 15% shovel mishaps

  • You cannot do much to prevent your buddy from clocking you in the noggin with his shovel, but you can avoid hitting your own head. Do not try to lift too much snow at once, especially if the snow is wet it could slip off the shovel, causing you to lose control.
  • 7% heart related events

  • Even in cold weather, you will sweat and become dehydrated. This raises your heart rate, which can increase your risk of a cardiac event, says Dr. Marks. Check your pulse if it is up by 30%, head inside for fluids and warmth.