December 31, 2008

Who shouldn’t shovel snow

U.S. orthopedists say olive oil sprayed on the dish of a shovel may help the snow slide off more easily.

Anything to make job easier -- such as an ergonomic shovel with a bend in it -- may help avoid the aches and pains of shoveling this seemingly snowier-than-usual winter, said the orthopedists at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore.

However, anyone overweight, elderly, or with a history of heart or back problems should forgo shoveling altogether, they advise.

The orthopedists liken snow shoveling to weight-lifting. Not taking breaks could put shovelers at risk for heart attack.

The LifeBridge Health doctors say shoveling injuries might be avoided by:

-- Stretching leg, arm and back muscles to warm up before shoveling.

-- Using salt or sand on ice to give the feet some traction.

-- Standing with feet apart at hip-width to maintain balance.

-- Not putting too much snow on the shovel -- only 1 to 2 inches at a time.

-- Pushing snow instead of lifting it. If lifting, protecting the back by tightening stomach muscles.

-- Walking to drop the snow rather than throwing it, but if throwing, rotating the entire body to face the direction of the throw.