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Dangers associated with shoveling snow not always apparent

Like many Penticton residents, John Kritikos was busy shovelling the first significant snow of the season this morning. There is a potential for that first outing with the snow shovel to be deadly for those not in good physical condition.
January 06, 2015 - 7:00 AM

PENTICTON - That big blast of winter isn't just a problem for city crews. It can be a problem from a health point of view for residents trying to dig out, but there are ways to reduce the possibility of suffering an injury.

Snow shovelling can be a risky thing for many of us to do. That’s because snow shovelling can be more strenuous than exercising full throttle on a treadmill. For those of us who are not healthy and fit, this could be dangerous.

Sudden exertion activities in cold weather can trigger back injuries, or worse yet, a heart attack.

“From a chiropractic point of view, people get into trouble when they do  activities beyond what they normally do,” explained Penticton Chiropractor Dr. Adam Konanz.

"Suddenly putting a huge demand on the body, when it’s not used to it, can cause old injuries to flare and cause new sprains and strains as well. So this snow is exactly what we are talking about. Someone may only have 15 minutes to clean the sidewalk before they go to work, so out they go, doing something their body isn’t ready to do. It’s been called ‘cardiac snow.’ That’s an old term, but guess what — again, people that aren’t that physically active go and lift this heavy, wet snow, they spike their heart rate and that’s what happens.”

Konanz said today’s snowfall will likely result in an increased number of patients in about a week, although he could be seeing patients affected by the snow by Friday.
“The damage isn’t apparent right away, generally it’s about a week lag,” he said. “That’s not so much a pulled muscle, that’s more something affecting the structure of the spine.”

Konanz  also noted injuries could come from slips and falls as well.  He suggests proper and timely maintenance of sidewalks in winter would go a long way to reducing the risk of falls, but that involves shovelling…

“Some things that can be done to lessen the chance of injury are to maintain fitness during the winter,” Konanz suggests, noting he sees a decline in fitness over the winter in many of his patients because they become inactive.

“Stay fit, move around,” he said, “It takes only an extra 15 minutes a day. There is a plethora of fitness activities in Penticton to do, including indoor fitness opportunities at the SOEC as well as the indoor soccer field.”

As far as shovelling snow -  if you must do it - Konanz suggests doing it in sections.

“Do a piece of it, go inside, relax for a while, then take another pass,” he advised. “Better yet, hire the kid down the street, if you can."

To contact a reporter for this story, email sarstad@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065. To contact the managing editor, email Marshall Jones at mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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