It has been a mild winter so far, but as the days and weeks inch by, it becomes necessary for all of us to be prepared for our usual Central New York lake effect snow! That heavy, thick and wet snow can sure be a pain; both literally and figuratively. Back pain, muscle strains/sprains, shoulder injuries, and fractures contributed to the 11,500 people that were sent to the ER last year.

So how can you prevent an injury or a visit to the ER this winter? A little bit of precaution goes a long way. Take a minute to review the tips below for preventing musculoskeletal injuries so that you can better celebrate the holiday season, pain-free. 

Choose the Right Shovel

A lot of stress can be placed on the spine due to bending, twisting, and lifting. Pick a shovel that is lighter in weight and has an adjustable handle length so that you may prevent unnecessary bending stresses on the spine. 

Use Proper Body Mechanics

Don’t lift from your back! Always lift from your legs, almost like you’re completing a squat. Allow your powerful quad muscles to do most of the lifting, which will help to reduce stress and strain on the back.

Push instead of Lifting

When possible try to push the snow instead of lifting it up and tossing it on the snowbank. This will help to reduce muscle strains and sprains that are a result of improper lifting and twisting techniques.

Prevent Slips and Falls

To be proactive, lay down a nice layer of salt where possible to help melt away icy patches and reduce the likelihood of a fall. Wear proper footwear that has sufficient traction on the sole.

Be Proactive

Keep up with the snow, a few inches at a time. Try to shovel a little bit at a time as the snow piles up, instead of removing all snow at once. Shoveling two inches is a lot better than shoveling that foot of snow. This will also allow you time to warm up indoors, take a break and stretch before shoveling again.