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Posted March 8, 2015 by HomeownerExpert in Outdoors
 
 

Better Snow Shoveling: Tips and Tools To Save Your Back


Shoveling snow is a fact of life for many of us, and just because we get used to it doesn’t mean we have to like it. Snow shoveling can put a real strain on your back, and leads to very real injuries every year, ranging from pulled muscles to cardiac arrest. There are plenty of ways to make shoveling snow easier and safer. The right snow shovel and the right technique make all the difference.

 

The Right Tool for the Right Job

Choosing the right snow shovel can make the job much easier and take the strain off your back. Style, materials and quality all come into consideration when you choose your weapon:

  • Blade Dimensions: Snow shovels with small blades reduce strain on your back, neck and shoulders simply because they pick up less snow with each scoop than larger shovels. The downside is that the job might take longer. A good size for most situations is between 18 and 22 inches wide.
  • Blade Materials: Steel snow shovels are the most durable, but they’re also heavy and can be more difficult to use than other materials. Aluminum is lighter and easier on your back, but it can bend with repeated use. High-strength plastic snow shovels are the lightest of all, and the good ones are also fairly durable, but they’re not so great on ice, and the constant scraping can dull the edge.
  • Shaft Construction: A strong shaft resists bending and bowing while you shovel snow, so look for a shovel with a high-quality steel, aluminum or wood handle. Fiberglass and resin handles are also great, but they can be pricey. Steer Clear of flimsy plastic.
  • Special Designs: Snow shovels with Z-shaped shafts (often billed as “ergonomically designed”) are made to ease the strain on your back. You can also choose a shovel with a plow-style blade instead of the more traditional shovel shape. These snow shovels are easier to use because you can simply push the snow off your driveway rather than lift it, but they’re not ideal in deep snow.

Safety and Ease

Give yourself a break with these tips to make snow shoveling easier and safer:

  • Whenever possible, push snow aside rather than lifting and throwing it.
  • Clear snow early, and keep up with it throughout the day. It’s much easier to clear a few inches of snow several times a day than a full foot of snow at the end of the day.
  • Dress in layers of light, water-resistant clothing. Avoid cotton, which can make you sweat, and don’t forget the hat and gloves.
  • Warm up with a few stretches before you get started.
  • Stay hydrated, and don’t be afraid to take a break.
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