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Urban Gardner: Surviving Snow Shoveling

Ralph Gardner Jr. Learns How to Avoid Back Surgery or a Heart Attack

The Wall Street Journal—February 17, 2014

Actually, I'd received a tutorial on shoveling over the phone from an eminent physician who is something of an expert on the subject. Frank Cammisa, M.D., chief of the Spine Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Cammisa told me he was speaking from outside an operating room where he was about to perform surgery. I neglected to ask whether his patient was a casualty of snow shoveling, though he said he'd be operating on someone later in the day who was.

"He herniated a disc," Dr. Cammisa reported. "He said, 'I felt something go in my back.'"

The physician said proper technique is paramount: "All the effort should be from bending your legs and knees and using your core strength rather than just trying to use your arms."

He also suggested using one of those ergonomic shovels with pushing capability—the kind with the bent handle and nonstick scoop. "It's already angled in the proper position, so you're using your pelvis, quads and glutes rather than keeping you straight and bending forward at your waist. That's going to put a stress on your back," he said.

This story originally appeared at wsj.com.



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