Snow Shoveling 101: How to Shovel Snow without Hurting Yourself

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What You'll Need
Scoop snow shovel

Snow shovelling is one of those winter activities no one can avoid. You need to clear the driveway and the sidewalk. Yet it’s something that can leave your back aching and in pain. There’s a way to undertake snow shovelling that won’t leave your back feeling terrible for hours or even days. Knowing the right technique will get the job done much faster and more easily.

Step 1 - The Shovel

When snow shovelling you’re going to achieve the best results by having the proper tools. Some snow shovels are flat, but look for one with a deeper body, as this will make it easier to scoop snow. Shop around, and don’t use just any old shovel from your garage. A proper snow shovel will be wider so it can move more snow. This will speed up the snow shovelling and require less effort and bending.

Step 2 - Bending

Like it or not, you’ll have to bend for snow shovelling. That can put a strain on your back. Do it the right way: bend from your hips, rather than from you back. This puts less stress on the back. When pushing, let the pressure come from the legs, not your back. The whole idea is to have your back doing as little as possible to avoid any back pain.

Step 3 - Starting to Shovel

Hold the shovel with both hands and have the tip of the shovel virtually parallel with the snow. This will require you to bend, but put the strain on your legs. Stand in the middle of the path or driveway and face toward the side at an angle.

Push the shovel into the snow. Don’t go too deep. You’ll find it much easier if you take off just a little of the snow with each pass. The shovel will move more easily, so there will be less strain and you’re not forcing it or shifting a heavy weight. As you push forward the snow will lift and some will fly over the shovel.

Step 4 - Removing Snow

By pushing toward the side, you not snow shovelling so much as being a human snow plow. Taking several passes to clear a strip might take a little longer, but there’s no lifting of heavy snow.

You should divide up the area to be cleaned into small sections. Whenever you’ve cleared a section straighten up and stretch your back. This will help the muscles relax before you bend again. Don’t try and scoop too much snow at one time. It’s much better for your back to take a little longer.

Step 5 - Completing the Job

Be aware that this method will only work if the snow is 8 inches deep or less. With heavier snow there’s no alternative but to dig. Once you have virtually all the snow cleared, finish off the job by using a broom to get down to the bare surface. Applying salt to the cleared ground will help to keep it clean and snow-free.