Prevent Slips & Falls and Shovel Gently

An AAHPO Medical Alert



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February 26, 2010
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Lawrence V. Najarian, MD, President

Ted Chaglassian, MD, Past President

Arthur Kubikian, DDS
Vice President

Knarig Khatchadurian, PhD Corresponding Secretary

Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD,
Recording Secretary

Garbis Baydar, MD

Edmund L. Gergerian, MD
Historian & Membership Committee

Pierre Maldjian, MD

Khoren Nalbandian, RPh
Louiza Puskulian-Kubikian, DDS
Aram Cazazian, DDS
Vicken Pamoukian, MD
Terenig Terjanian, MD
Armand Asarian, MD



With record snowfall in our region, many of us are soldiering on through the ice and snow. This can result in slips and falls, and overexertion due to shoveling snow. People of all ages can get hurt, but people age 65 and older are most vulnerable to serious injury. We are fortunate to have the guidance of experts such as orthopedic surgeon Wayne Berberian, MD, director of residency training at UMDNJ, chiropractor Todd Aordikian, DC of Bronx, NY, and podiatrist Carnig Shakarjian, DPM of Rivervale, NJ to help us take precautions to prevent potentially serious trauma.
  1. Wear the proper foot gear - no high heels, soles made of rubber or neoprene composite are best, leather and plastic soles are too slippery.
  2. Take small steps or shuffle to keep your center of balance under you.
  3. Walk slowly and never hurry on frozen ground.
  4. Keep both hands free for balance, rather than in your pockets.
  5. Use handrails wherever they are provided.
  6. Don't carry loads on stairways.
  7. When carrying parcels, make sure that you can see over them.
  8. Keep your eyes on where you are going.
  9. Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
  10. Step carefully from vehicles and hold on to the vehicle for balance.

When these helpful hints don't work, and you know you are going to slip, try to reduce your potential injury by:

  • Relaxing as much as possible when you begin to fall.

  • Try to twist and roll backwards, rather than falling forward.

  • Toss the load you are carrying.  Protect yourself instead of the objects being carried.

Be heart healthy and back friendly while shoveling snow:

  1. If you are inactive and have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task of shoveling snow.
  2. Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These stimulants may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, placing extra stress on the heart.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer.
  4. Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as needed.
  5. Warm up your muscles before shoveling, by walking for a few minutes or marching in place.
  6. Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.
  7. Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
  8. Protect your back from injury by lifting correctly.
  9. Stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.
  10. Most importantly - listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain!

AAHPO Medical Alerts are brought to you by AAHPO Healthcare Professionals. AAHPO's strength lies in its highly dedicated and talented professionals who are inspired to help others. Please turn to AAHPO whenever you have medical concerns and questions.


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