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RISMEDIA, February 8, 2011—(MCT)—Make no mistake, shoveling snow in the winter provides a tremendous workout. It works all sorts of muscles and burns calories. If you’re not careful, though, shoveling can also result in severe back injury or, even worse, a heart attack.

Clearing a driveway or sidewalk of snow requires preparation and proper body mechanics.

-Allow yourself plenty of time to shovel. The activity should not be rushed.

-Dress warmly in layered clothing. But don’t bundle up to the point that your clothes restrict movement. Keep your field of vision clear and unobstructed by objects, such as a scarf.

-Limber up. Do some light stretching (10 minutes or so) before shoveling.

-Find a shovel that suits your body size. A shovel that is heavy or longer than necessary can lead to muscle strain.

-Hit the fresh stuff. Newly fallen snow is easier to shovel than older, packed snow. And keep an eye out for ice patches. Not only can ice cause you to slip and fall, it can also cause you to strain a muscle.

-Push, don’t lift. Keep your shoveling motion steady with few twists and turns. Be sure to push snow forward or to the side, not over your back.

-If you need to lift snow out of the way, bend your knees with legs apart and back straight. Let your legs and arms absorb the stress, rather than your back.

-Don’t let fatigue become a problem. Take frequent breaks to allow muscles to rest. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

-Heed the signs. If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, stop shoveling immediately.

Sources: American Chiropractic Association, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

(c) 2011, The Kansas City Star.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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