EMMC Orthopedic Surgeon Shares the Scoop on Snow Shoveling Safety


ThinkstockPhotos-462953635.jpg(Bangor, Maine) – Moving snow with a shovel is a fact of life in Maine, but it can lead to injury for those who are not prepared. Fortunately, by keeping some simple tips in mind, it’s possible to reduce your chances of getting hurt.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, clinics, and doctors’ offices last year with injuries related to shoveling. Common injuries include sprains and strains in the back and shoulders.
“Shoveling involves a lot of bending and lifting, which puts extra pressure on bones and joints,” says Stephen Thompson, MD, Med, FRCSC, a surgeon at EMMC Orthopedic Surgical Specialists and medical director, EMMC Sports Health. “It can be a problem for anyone, but especially those who are not accustomed to lifting a lot of weight.”
There are several things you can do to stay safe when shoveling:
  • Stretch – Warm up your body before shoveling by completing some simple muscle stretches, just as you would do before a workout.
  • Dress appropriately – Wear layers, and keep your head and hands covered while you work. Wear slip-resistant boots that have a good tread.
  • Start early – If significant snowfall is expected, don’t wait until the storm is over to begin. By clearing an inch or two at a time, you can reduce the strain on your body.
  • Give your body a break – Pace yourself, and stop to rest every few minutes. Pay attention to your body’s signals – if you feel pain, stop.
  • Lift with your legs – Keep your back straight, and push snow instead of throwing it whenever possible. Never bend at the waist or twist to throw snow over your shoulder. Lift a small amount of snow at a time.
  • Fuel up – Stay hydrated, and have a snack before taking on the snowfall.
“It’s important to listen to your body,” adds Dr. Thompson. “If you feel tired, take a break. If you experience pain in your arms, shoulders, or back, especially if it is severe or it lingers, see a doctor. Of course, if you or a loved one has shortness of breath or dizziness, call 911 immediately.”

For more information about EMMC Orthopedic Surgical Specialists, click here.