It occurs to me that we all need a refresher course in this particular exercise. I’ve been shoveling with a short, lighter shovel, which has the advantage of lighter loads and quicker turn around. But it is also about six inches too short for me, making me stoop with each shovel full. The combination of too short and a light load give me the illusion that I can “cheat” and not use proper form. My low back says otherwise.
I looked at all my shovels. There are a wide range of shovels but my favorite shovel is a heavy, wide shovel with a steel edge. The added weight constantly reminds me to use my legs and the steel edge lets me cut right through an ice sheet. I use the big shovel for heavy snow, the lighter shovel for 3-5 inches of powder and the push broom for anything less. Solid ice is solid ice, and you can thaw it (I recycle the city’s dirt in the spring and store it in buckets) or presume that it will happen. I usually shovel mid-storm to avoid the heavy lifting, and I make sure I’m down as low as I can go for minimum ice buildup.
A word on snow blowers. In my narrow, walled in drive way with a car usually parked in it, a snow blower won’t help me. I have a very kind person who plows the front of the house, but I have no real use for a blower. If you have enough space for a wide blower, it might be wise to get a plow guy. Why spend your life clearing thirty feet of pavement that he can do in five minutes, and better? I just wonder how many people have done the math on a blower versus plowing. I often see my neighbors with blowers completely stymied by the city plow’s icy, heavy curbside snow.
Here are a few videos on how to shovel snow. This particular doctor has a great shovel for pushing the snow, but that sucker is absolutely lousy for lifting and throwing the light, powdery snow we’ve been getting lately.
If the snow is light enough (usually two inches of powder) I prefer a push broom to any kind of shovel. You can use the broom to brush off your car without nicking the paint with a shovel, and it does what that bent shovel does without the weird bend.
The How To video is very weird and funny. Anyone in Maine using non-stick spray on their shovels? I didn’t think so. This guy has two itches of powder and when he’s shoveling there is no way he’s not using his low back for the lift. Points for weird, but no clear ideas how to shovel well.
This video is the best, talking about overextension, but they aren’t shoveling any real snow, and definitely nothing with an ice pack. They don’t demonstrate alternating sides, which is one of my best tips for not overextending your back and setting up repetitive strain on one side.
- Snow blower boom includes some busts in Consumer Reports tests (blogs.consumerreports.org)
- A Do-It-Yourself Bicycle Powered Snow Plow (crunchgear.com)
- A Tricycle built for Plowing (hackaday.com)
- Shovelin’! And Snow Etiquette (daprice.com)
- Snow Shoveling Injures Thousands Each Year (webmd.com)
- Snow Shoveling Related To 11,500 Emergency Department Visits Each Year: New National Study (medicalnewstoday.com)
- PA town fines drivers trying to save shoveled-out parking spots (autoblog.com)
- A Midwesterner’s Snow Shoveling DOs and DON’Ts For Clueless Seattleites (slog.thestranger.com)
- Who Invented the First Shovel? (neatorama.com)