As you dig yourself out of the latest winter storm, be careful to avoid many of the common injuries that pack emergency rooms this time of year.

Steve Mason

Tossing heavy wet snow often leads to severe muscle soreness and lower back problems, as well as potential broken bones from falls on slippery sidewalks, said Dr. Robert Eisenstein, chief of Ambulatory Services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and vice chairman of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

He said while people with underlying heart or lung problems can be more prone to serious issues, it's often people who aren't in great shape over-exerting themselves. Eisenstein advised residents to pace themselves while shoveling and take plenty of breaks "so they don't wind up having chest pain or injuring their backs or straining themselves trying to do too much or lifting too much."

Heart issues are a concern while shoveling, but Eisenstein pointed out often a sore chest can be confused for a more serious problem.

"The pain that we're concerned when we're worried about your heart is not sharp stabbing pain, it's that pressure, tightness, soreness sensation. So people often confuse that [dull pain] with muscle soreness and sharp stabbing pain with their heart, which is actually the opposite," Eisenstein said.

Additionally, the doctor warns that spending time out in the frigid temperatures can exacerbate already existing winter ailments, including colds, the flu, and other viruses.