Steve Mason

While a portion of us like to watch the snow fall, there is the problem for all of us about how to shovel it to dig ourselves out.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends taking the following snow shoveling safety tips to protect your back when shoveling:

WARM-UP YOUR MUSCLES- Shoveling can be a vigorous activity. Before you begin this physical workout, warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise, particularly back exercises.

PACE YOURSELF. Snow shoveling and snow blowing are aerobic activities.Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency care.

PROPER EQUIPMENT. Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands a comfortable distance apart from the tool grip to increase your leverage.

PROPER LIFTING Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once — this is particularly important in the case of heavy, wet snow. Do it one layer at a time.

SAFE TECHNIQUE-. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.

Make sure you are watching out for the following symptoms that could show you are possibly having a heart attack, shortness of breath, discomfort in the left arm and chest pain. If you have these symptoms, you seek treatment immediately.

Older people who have been diagnosed with heart disease or at risk for heart disease should avoid shoveling and get someone else to do it.