HEALTH REPORT: How to avoid winter shoveling injuries

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Snow shoveling can be a real pain.
In fact, research shows thousands of people end up in emergency departments each year after snow shoveling, and many of those visits are for back injuries.
We have more in this week's health report.
The repetition of lifting too much and twisting too often wreaks havoc on the lower back.
But according to Doctor of Chiropractic, Andrew Bang, many low back injuries can be avoided with a few simple tweaks to our form.
Andrew Bang; Doctor of Chiropractic>>: "You can make sure your stance is a little wider than normal and then you can also make sure you're bending your knees quite a bit and the last step is to actually tilt your hips forward, flattening your back. Doing these three things takes the most stress off your low back."
Dr. Bang said shoveling often involves a dangerous combination of heavy lifting, twisting and throwing snow.
He said twisting puts strain on the discs in the lower back and can lead to disc herniation and rupture, so it's a good idea to avoid twisting when shoveling.
He added that doing any activity repetitively over time can lead to muscle fatigue, discomfort, and even damage to muscles and ligaments - so it's best to break up activities like shoveling.
He suggested switching between a few minutes of lifting and throwing snow, and a few minutes of pushing or plowing snow.
When it comes to the weight of the snow, Dr. Bang said lifting less than eight pounds of snow is low to no risk.
However, as someone lifts up towards 50 pounds of snow, risk for back injury increases, so it's important to lift within a safe range.
Andrew Bang; Doctor of Chiropractic>>: "If you keep that range in that 10-15 pounds of weight, you're going to be in a low risk category to avoid a major injury from shoveling snow."
Before heading outdoors, Dr. Bang said a few minutes of simple exercises or stretches like toe touches, or lumbar twists will warm up the lower back and help to avoid potential injury.
The Health Report is brought to you by the Ear Nose and Throat Clinic located in the medical dental arts building and by Interior Women's Health located on 1626 30th Avenue.