Jeff Angileri
Dec 3, 2008, 9:37 PM

Madisonians are digging out from the season's second snowstorm. It's not an easy job.

There was a lot of ice that was built up on the sidewalk, said George Hank, Director of Building Inspecting for the City of Madison. Sometimes that ice is nearly impossible to remove with a shovel or an ice scraper.

Thousands of people are injured every year after fighting a losing battle with frozen concrete.

Probably the two biggest things we see are strains and sprains related to falls and some fractures, said Steve Messimer, physical therapist with Dean Health System. The other big thing is back injury due to snow shoveling.

Experts say even with good posture and mechanics, permanent tissue damage is possible.

If you get about 12 pounds on the end of a shovel -- that's going to exert about 300 pounds of force on your disks, Messimer said.

Recovery could take a month or longer. Experts advise people to warm-up first.

Just do some simple stretches just like you would if you're going to play tennis or golf, said Messimer.

Some people have perfected a technique that's easy on the back.

I just push the snow and never lift it. I need to preserve my back for my golfing, said Jan Klund, of Madison, who helped shovel an entire parking lot.

And when it comes to slippery sidewalks, a little bit of salt and sand can go a long way.

Madison is one of several municipalities that requires residents to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes. The rule is -- all the snow and ice must be gone by noon, the day after it stops snowing.

Shoveling assistance:

The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups

2850 Dairy Drive, Suite 100

Madison, WI 53718

(608) 224-0606

Web site: www.cwag.org