Snow shoveling safety - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Snow shoveling safety

MADISON (WKOW) -- Most of us will have to dig out from this major storm hitting overnight and all day Thursday. But you need to be careful.

It's estimated that there are about 11,000 emergency room visits a year from snow shoveling, and most of those can be avoided.

Dr. Kim Litwack, with Advanced Pain Management, gave some helpful tips on 27 News at 5 on Wednesday.

Litwack says it's important to take breaks when shoveling. She says you can walk around, stretch, or have some hot chocolate to give your muscles a break.

Litwack says it's a good idea to warm up before shoveling to. She says warming up with a few gentle stretching exercises and a short walk around the block before you even pickup the shovel could save you pain the next day. Litwack also says people who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.

According to Litwack, one of the main concerns with shoveling is bending over and hunching your back. She says to avoid this, be sure to find a shovel that is the appropriate height and weight. She says that will prevent you from feeling the need to hunch over.

Litwack says it is very important to have proper technique as you shovel, especially if you have wet, heavy snow. Instead of lifting a full shovel of snow using your back muscles, Litwack says to bend your knees and lift with your legs, keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.

In addition, Litwack says you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, she says to turn your whole body. She also says to switch sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.

You can find more information at Advanced Pain Management's website.

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