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Experts give snow shovelling advice

Monday January 11th, 2010

Most Britons have lost the habit of clearing snow - but experts have warned of the risks of illness and injury from doing it without preparation.

In the United States, where snow is a routine feature of winter in many areas, more than 70,000 people were treated in 2008 for illness and injury caused by moving snow and ice.

Many of the injuries involved sprains and strains, often of the back and shoulders.

The activity can pose a major risk to people with heart conditions - and experts said that people who were unfit or suffered from chronic medical conditions would do better to hire help.

Dr Michael Shafer, of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, said: "Shoveling the snow involves a lot of bending and heavy lifting, particularly in wet snow.

"It may be especially vigorous for people who do not regularly exercise, as their backs, shoulder and arm muscles may not be prepared for that level of activity.

"If you feel any pain while shoveling, stop and rest."

He advises starting snow clearance early and doing it often - to build up fitness.

Other advice includes undergoing a warm-up before starting - and pushing the snow rather than lifting it.

And people using shovels should not seek to throw the snow as it causes more twisting and stress, the Academy says.

* Nursing leaders have paid tribute to the members of the profession, who have made "extraordinary efforts" to keep services going in the winter freeze.

Some nurses have slept overnight in their places of work to ensure care continues, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

President Maura Buchanan said: "Across the country, nursing and health care staff are making great efforts to reach their places of work to ensure the vulnerable continue to receive nursing care and medical treatment. Teams are working together to make sure the provision of care does not suffer.

"Health care staff should be congratulated for coping admirably with this added pressure."

Chief executive Dr Peter Carter said: "Nursing staff are facing extraordinary disruption and difficulty and we would like to take this opportunity to thank health care staff across the UK who are continuing to put their patients first.

"Nurses across the UK are walking to work in extreme temperatures with some sleeping overnight in hospitals and other health care facilities to ensure patients continue to receive first class care.

"Nurses working in remote communities are providing a vital life line to many vulnerable people."

Tags: Fitness | General Health | Heart Health | North America | Nursing & Midwifery | Orthopaedics | UK News

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