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The Telegram
  • Frank Talk: I’ll be shoveling off now

  • Medical professionals have known for decades that the sort of intense shoveling that comes with removing the three feet of snow that’s been deposited on your driveway overnight can be deleterious to your health.

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  • Medical professionals have known for decades that the sort of intense shoveling that comes with removing the three feet of snow that’s been deposited on your driveway overnight can be deleterious to your health.
    Particularly when your most strenuous from of exercise during the previous 11 months was typified by "dropping" to the floor to look under the couch for the TV remote.
    Studies have shown that overexertion can lead to serious medical ailments, from heart distress to badly wrenched backs.
    On the other hand, waiting several weeks for the snow to melt poses problems of its own, including "cabin fever" prompting paroxysms of axe-wielding rage, cannibalism, and unflattering tweets regarding loved ones.
    There are a number of helpful pieces of advice passed on by generations of folks involved in the shoveling industry that can make your experience clearing a path back to society safe, sane and spiritually fulfilling.
    These recommendations include:
    - Dress appropriately. Think gloves, a hat, scarves and layer upon layer of breathable clothing. Avoid going formal and breaking out that tuxedo you never get to wear.
    - Stay ahead of the storm. Don’t wait until it’s piled up to three feet. Dedicated shovelers will be on the ground up to 24 hours before the storm actually strikes to get a jump on any accumulation. Some have even been known to begin gathering in the late summer months.
    - Use an appropriate shovel. Your shovel should have a handle long enough to reach the ground, and a large, wide bottom with which to dig up or push the snow. It should not have metal tines at the end. That is a rake.
    - Employ an efficient strategy. For instance, if you clear the snow from in front of your car, don’t place it in front of the entrance to your home.
    - Maintain proper posture. It’s important not to slouch. The neighbors will think less of you.
    - Don’t twist your upper torso as you toss the snow. Likewise, refrain from dancing “the Twist” as you toss the snow. That dates you.
    - Whenever possible, get someone else to do it.
    - Stretch before you begin shoveling.
    - Stretch after you’ve finished shoveling.
    - Stretch while you’re shoveling.
    - Stretch instead of shoveling.
    Other approaches include:
    - Raise a family. Using this tactic, you marry and produce hearty offspring who can be relied upon to perform all shoveling tasks. Drawback: This is time consuming.
    - Move to an arid climate. Using this tactic, you simply move to an area where it never snows, like Death Valley. Drawback: It’s really hot.
    Page 2 of 2 - Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.
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