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(TNS)—I’m a real stickler about snow removal, the result of growing up in Connecticut and plowing my way to lots of cash as soon as I could hold a shovel.

While people all around me use snow throwers, I shovel, even though I have had one of those infernal machines since 1997.

Last January’s blizzard was no exception. It took me 11 hours over two days, but it was exercise, and my gym routine has helped make such marathon sessions pain-free.

I’m not everybody (and the rest of the world is grateful for that), so I want to share proper shoveling techniques for those who want to know.

First, if you’re out of shape, don’t exercise regularly, or have trouble breathing or heart problems, don’t shovel snow.

Dress in layers.

Stretch before you shovel to get those muscles working and have a better chance of not seriously hurting yourself.

Bend at the knees, not at the waist (it’s just like playing tennis), and lift with your legs to protect your spine from injury.

If the snow is light and fluffy, you can simply push it out of the way—but use the same technique. Push the snow from the edge of the handle, shifting body weight from back leg to front leg instead of bending at the waist.

If the snow is heavy and wet, bend the knees, lift with the legs, but move smaller amounts.

I know I sound like my (pick one) Pilates, yoga, TRX, tennis and swimming coaches, but protect your back by using your legs and abdominal muscles to lift the snow. “Pull in your abs and don’t boink,” as one says.

Rest regularly. If you try to shovel lots of snow at light speed, you increase risk of injury.

The shovel? It’s somewhere in the back of the garage, so you better start looking for it now. I buy a new one every three years, depending on how bad the previous winter was and if there was a lot of ice to deal with.

I prefer 18-inch-wide shovels with small blades and offset handles to cut down on back strain.

I have a brush with a telescoping handle for the car and the greenhouse, a coarse-surface broom, and an ice chopper.

Cross your fingers for another mild winter.

©2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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