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Snow is coming, so shovel smart with these tips

The National Weather Service is predicting a heavy snowfall in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest on Christmas Eve, which could spell bad news for travelers and the family snow-shoveler.

The wet, heavy snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour, with more possible in some areas. Injuries associated with shoveling and walking on icy, snow-covered paths could ruin your holiday, so physical therapy company Athletico suggests you keep some things in mind to avoid the pain after you shovel:

Shovel the right way: Lower back injuries related to shoveling are very common. Using the right shovel for you is important: choose a lightweight shovel that is long enough for you to stay upright as you move snow. Too short a handle will force you to lean over, and too long will make it hard to lift the snow you pick up. In general, it’s a better idea to push the snow out of the way than lift it — but if you must pick it up, lift with your knees and avoid twisting your body to throw it.

Stretch out your back beforehand: If you are fairly sedentary (work at a desk all day, don’t work out a whole lot) it’s an especially good idea to stretch out your back before you clear the walkway. Lay on your back and pull your leg in to your chest, then switch legs. Do each side two or three times, holding for up to 30 seconds per stretch. Do some jumping jacks or jog in place to get your heart ready for the work.

Wear warm clothes, but not the warmest: When you are shoveling you’ll be creating some warmth through your activity, so it’s best to dress as if it is 10 to 15 degrees warmer. Wear a moisture-wicking fabric that will keep sweat away from your skin so you don’t get chilled. And of course, wear good boots with traction when you are out in the snow.

Stay hydrated: It may not be hot outside, but drinking water when doing any kind of physical activity is always a good idea.

Be on the lookout for ice: If walkways are icy, give yourself lots of time to get to where you need to go so you aren’t rushing. Keep your hands free and out of pockets while you walk, and take smaller, shuffling steps to avoid falls. If you do fall, roll with it by curling your body — it lessens the impact.