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Montefiore Offers Tips for Safe Snow Removal

Bronx, NY (February 9, 2010) -- Is there a right way to shovel snow? Absolutely, says Stanley F. Wainapel, MD, MPH, Clinical Director of Rehabilitation Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. Using a long-handled shovel and positioning your body correctly can help prevent the frequent spine and muscle problems that are associated with shoveling snow. Dr. Wainapel offers the following snow removal tips:

1.  Bend the knees, not the spine, and lift with your legs rather than your back.

2. Use a shovel with a handle long enough to avoid the need for constantly bending forward;  this places excessive strain on the back.

3.  When lifting a shovel full of snow, hold it close to the body to reduce forces on the spine.

4.  Throw the snow directly in front of you rather than tossing it to the side.

5.  Don't eat heavily immediately before or after shoveling snow;  people at risk for angina could trigger an attack due to the combination of cold weather, heavy exertion, and a heavy meal.

6.  Take regular breaks to rest and to stretch.  

7.  Remember that wet snow is heavier than dry, powdery snow, so have the shovel less full when removing wet snow.

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