Heavy, wet snow heading towards the Miami Valley; How to avoid a trip to the ER from shoveling

MIAMI VALLEY — With snow heading towards the Miami Valley— you may have a fair bit of shoveling to do.

According to a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy, an average of over 11,000 emergency visits a year are related to snow shoveling.

News Center 7′s Xavier Hershovitz spoke with a doctor on ways you can avoid getting hurt while shoveling what’s expecting to be a heavy, wet snow.

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Dr. Joseph Allen, the Regional Medical Director for Premier Health, says they see plenty of ER visits in the Miami Valley related to snow shoveling.

Many are avoidable, and one way we go wrong is rushing to get it done.

“Take your time. Plan accordingly. Take breaks. Don’t get out there and try to shovel the whole driveway in one swoop,” Allen said.

Sprains and strains are most common. A lot of that has to do with the way you shovel.

“If you shovel and twist— and are kind of bent over and twisting— that causes a lot of the back injuries that we see,” Allen said.

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Instead, lift with your knees, even if you feel you’re in good physical shape.

“It doesn’t matter if you go to the gym seven days a week, when you’re out there shoveling snow that’s different from the gym. So you might be in great shape, but that twisting and bending and everything else causes injury just as easily,” he said. “The other big one that we worry about are heart issues.”

Chest pains, shortness of breath and left arm pain are all signs you may have an issue with your heart.

He says symptoms for women are often different so.

“Anything out of the ordinary that has you worried. Make sure your reach out and at least get some advice or checked out from a medical professional,” he said.

Snow blowers can avoid putting all the pressure on your body, but they also see related injuries.

“Always make sure you’re following the safety procedures with that. Use your little snow blower tool to clear it as opposed to your hand,” he said.

Allen says one other thing we often forget while we’re out in the cold shoveling snow, staying hydrated. He says it’s very important especially in keeping your muscles working well.