With record amounts of snow fall in the past week, the strenuous chore of “digging out” is upon us. Mark Bengtson, Physical Therapist and Owner of Pinnacle Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine would like to offer these tips for staying safe and healthy while braving the winter elements.

1. Shoveling snow:
When shoveling, start shoveling early when the snow is light and less compact. If possible, try to shovel multiple times throughout the day rather than allowing for the snow to accumulate. Shoveling more often with less snow accumulation will lessen the chance of straining your back and shoulders from lifting a large amount of snow.

The way you shovel can also lessen the risk of injury. Pushing the snow, rather than lifting and twisting at the waist to throw the snow, is a much more safe movement. Consider using a shovel with a longer handle or one with a bend in it, to allow you to keep your back straight and your legs bent.

Although shoveling may be a strenuous activity, it can also be considered very good exercise if done properly. The act of shoveling increases the heart rate and offers a workout to your arms, legs, shoulders, and back.

2. Walking:
Walking in the snow and ice can be very dangerous. Wearing the proper footwear is imperative to walking safely. Boots or shoes with proper traction, coupled with walking slowly with short steps can prevent most winter related slips and falls. Be aware of your surroundings and watch the ground ahead of you to avoid slick spots.

3. For the kids:
Sledding: Sledding is a winter pastime. Although fun, sledding can result in injury, some serious. When sledding, know your limits. Extreme sledding hills are fun and exciting, however broken bones or painful sprains are not. Take precautions such as wearing a helmet, elbow and wrist pads, and extra layers of clothing.