Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Be Careful - it's a blizzard out there!

Huggies shares some tips for winter pregnancies. Click the post title to read the article.

Hazards of winter activities may have you a bit worried. It's good to be cautious, especially in winter weather. Falling is a problem for all pregnant women and winter icy conditions make falling a danger for everyone. The combination can be, well, slippery!
This is no time to be (overly) fashion-conscious in your footwear. You can find something cute but make sure it's practical - no high-heeled fashion boots (or other shoes), make sure the soles have traction and a boot that actually keeps out the water, slush and snow will pay dividends in your comfort level.

Normal winter activities such as snow shoveling, skiing and sledding should now be somewhat limited due to fall and injury risks. Click the embedded links for more detailed information
While 15 minutes of shoveling is good exercise, back injuries are common and if there's one thing you don't need now, it is extra back strain and pulled muscles. Consider paying someone if possible - the cost will be minimal compared to a back injury. If you must do the snow removal, consider a snow blower, especially for the "big snow." If you feel pain, STOP!
Here are some tips for all of us from ServiceMagic.com :

  • If you receive only several inches of light, dry snow, you may be able to shovel your walks and driveway. When shoveling, always be aware of your back and bend your knees. Avoid excess twisting.

  • Always shovel lighter loads of snow, not a heavily packed shovel.

  • Don't shovel soon after you wake up. A slipped disc injury is much more likely to occur in the morning due to the build-up of fluid in the disc from lying down all night.

  • Take breaks often.

  • When snow is very wet and heavy, use a snowblower if at all possible. Extreme caution should be used when operating a snowblower.

  • Keep all shields in place and keep hands and feet away from all moving parts. [No exceptions]

  • For icy sidewalks, throw down some rock salt. Slippery sidewalks can be extremely dangerous.

  • Ezine article by Marcy Tate also has good suggestions:
    • Choose a plastic shovel over a metal shovel. Plastic shovels are lighter and will therefore be easier to use.
    • Spray a silicone lubricant on the blade of the shovel. This will make the snow slide off and also prevent it form sticking.
    • Do not throw snow over your shoulder; the safest way to shovel is to actually push the snow away from you.
    • Shovel safely by bending legs slightly at the knee, letting thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work; this will reduce strain on the heart and back.
    • Use a shovel with a smaller blade. This will limit the weight of snow that you will be pushing and therefore limit your chances for injury.
    • If you are at home during the start of a heavy snowfall, consider heading out to shovel after just a few inches. Going out a few times to shovel may be inconvenient and cold, but in the end it will be easier and quicker then shoveling many inches of heavy snow.
    • The safest way to shovel to prevent injury is to always bend your knees slightly and gently lean over.
    A few more tips on choosing a snow shovel are shared by a spine institute:
    Choose a snow shovel that is right for you!
    • Be sure that your shovel has a curved handle, as this enables you to keep your back straighter when shoveling.
    • Obtain a shovel with an appropriate length handle. The length is correct when you can slightly bend your knees, flex your back 10 degrees or less, and hold the shovel comfortably in your hands at the start of the "shoveling stroke".
    • A plastic shovel blade will generally be lighter than a metal one, thus putting less strain on your spine.
    • Sometimes, a smaller blade is better than a larger blade. Although a small blade can't shovel as much, it avoids the risk of trying to pick up a too heavy pile of snow with a larger blade.
    And for using the shovel:

    • Push the snow, do not lift it. Pushing puts far less strain on the spine than lifting.

    • Be sure your muscles are warm before you start shoveling. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to sprain or strain than warm, relaxed muscles.

    • When you grip the shovel, make sure your hands are at least 12 inches apart. By creating distance between your hands, you increase your leverage and reduce the strain on your body.

    • Your shoveling technique is very important. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends: "If you must lift the snow, lift 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 shovel of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once; do it piecemeal. Shovel and inch or two; then take another inch off. Rest and repeat if necessary." In addition to these comments, remember to move your feet rather than twisting.
    Pamela Brill of BabyZone says:

    Women who were active prior to pregnancy should, barring any pregnancy-related complications, continue to enjoy most leisure sports and activities. "I recommend that my fit, pregnant patients take a commonsense approach to exercise in pregnancy—don't overheat, overdo, or push yourself like you would if you weren't pregnant," says Dr. Heidi S. Angle, MD, of Newton-Wellesley Hospital's Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC, in Massachusetts.
    Dr. Andrew Green, MD, of Minnesota's Fairview Lakeville Clinic concurs. "There is evidence that women who continue to exercise during their pregnancy avoid excessive weight gain, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, and have better labors."
    Activities, however, that should be avoided during pregnancy include downhill skiing, hockey, or sledding, which put pregnant women at risk of falling or experiencing abdominal trauma.
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