After a crippling blizzard last week, the region is looking at another 2 to 5 inches of snow, meaning Minnesotans will have shovels in hand once again.

But shoveling is more than some bodies can handle, cautions the Mayo Clinic Health System.

Mayo healthcare providers say those who ignore signs of overdoing shoveling could end up in the emergency department.

Here are some tips Mayo providers say can help keep you safe while clearing driveways and sidewalks:

  1. Be heart-conscious – “If you have a history of heart problems and are inactive, it’s best to speak with your health care provider before shoveling,” says Melanie Young, physician assistant.  “Also, don’t shovel while smoking, eating, or after consuming caffeine.  This may place extra stress on your heart.”
  2. Dress warm – Wear several layers of clothing.
  3. Drink plenty of water – Remaining hydrated during the winter is just as important as when it’s warmer.
  4. Warm up your arms and legs – Stretch your arms and legs before beginning to shovel.  You are less likely to injure muscles when your muscles are warm.
  5. Take it slow – Pace yourself and take breaks if needed.
  6. Protect your back – “Bend at the knees, not the back,” said Brian Langenhorst, a registered occupational therapist.  “Lift with your legs bent, stand with your feet hip-width apart for balance, and keep the shovel close to your body.  Also, don’t pick up too much snow at once if the snow is wet.”
  7. Shovel while snow is fresh – Freshly fallen snow is lighter than snow that has started melting.
  8. Listen to your body – This is the most important snow shoveling tip.  If something feels abnormal or if you’re tired, it’s time to stop.
  9. Know who to call in an emergency – If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

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