Snow Shoveling Tips
Select a Shovel that's Right for You
Shovels are made from different materials and come in many shapes and sizes.
• Consider a shovel with a plastic blade instead of metal—plastic is lightweight—isn’t the snow heavy enough?
• Sometimes a smaller blade is better. You will not be able to shovel as much snow per shovel load, but the load will weigh less, which puts less strain on the spine.
• Try a shovel made to push snow. They have a bigger and wider blade. It is far easier to push snow than to lift it. There are shovels made expressly for pushing snow. See what is available at your hardware or home center store.
*The night before you might want to consider spraying a bit of silicon lubricant on the blade. This can help keep the snow from sticking to the shovel. The snow will slide off the shovel blade.
Technique. Technique. Technique.
• Warm muscles work better. So take some time to stretch to prepare your body for activity.
• Just like with a golf club, hand placement on the shovel handle is very important! Don’t put your hands (grip) close to one another. Create some distance between the hands. This will give you more leverage and make it easier to lift snow.
• Think about good posture and maintaining the natural curve of your spine.
• Address your task directly. Start in the middle of your driveway and if you can push the snow to the edges. Work your way from the center to the edges. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart to maintain balance. Try to keep the shovel close to your body. When you do lift, bend at the hip like doing a squat—not the waist or back. Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Lift with your legs—not your back. Do not twist your body. Dump the snow in front of you. If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet—do not twist! Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once; do it piecemeal. Push the snow as it comes down in multiple episodes instead of all at once. Pushing most of it versus lifting it as described above. Rest and repeat if necessary.” Shoveling is actually good exercise!
• Don’t throw snow over your shoulder! Go forward with the snow.
• Fresh snow is lighter in weight—so clear snow as soon as it has fallen. Snow becomes dense as it compacts on the ground. Wet snow is very heavy. One shovelful can weigh 20 pounds or more!
• Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks to stretch your back and extremities.
A snowblower is a terrific piece of machinery, but if it's not used correctly, you can strain or injure your back. Snowblowers are designed to remove snow at a particular rate of speed. Pushing or forcing the equipment to go faster is defeating its purpose—to do the work for you! Spraying the auger and shoot with some silicon will help keep it from clogging also.