Shoveling-related injuries adding up following snowstorm

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With all the snow this week, emergency rooms in Colorado are seeing all sorts of injuries.

“We’ve had injuries not only with this snow, but then our other snow that we’ve had,” said Jason Martin, the director of injury prevention at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.

Across the country, about 12,000 people a year are admitted to the hospital for shoveling injuries. The most common injuries, Martin says, are falls and back strain. So, it’s important to use good form while shoveling.

Martin says start with a wide stance. Bend at the knees, not the waist, and don’t twist. If you are concerned about your back, use a small shovel to limit the amount of weight.

Plus, experts say be careful not to over exert yourself. Too many people die of heart attacks while shoveling.

“I think a lot of people just underestimate what kind of strain it puts on your heart. I’ve seen a lot of studies where they equate it to basically  getting on a treadmill and running at full speed, and so your heart rate is going to go up, your respiratory rate is going to go up. And on top of that, with the cold, you have vasoconstriction, so your heart is not  going to get the blood that it needs,” Martin said.

He says it’s best if people over the age of 55 with heart disease do not shovel at all.

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