How To Shovel Snow without Breaking Your Back

Shoveling snow is one of the most strenuous household chores that people have to perform.  According to WebMD, you can burn up to 600 calories an hour while shoveling snow.  But it is unlike other household chores because you never know how often you’ll need to do it.  Depending on how much it snows, you could be out there multiple times in one week during the winter.  Because of this I’d like to give a few tips on how to shovel snow properly, with the goal of reducing the amount of strain on your body.

Preparation

Clothing – Because snow shoveling is a chore that is required during winter weather, it is necessary to make sure you are dressed for the occasion.  While you’ll want to make sure you dress warm enough to prevent from getting cold or frostbite, it is also important that you don’t get too warm while shoveling.  When you combine warm winter clothes with the hard work of shoveling your driveway, your body can very easily start to fell too warm.  This is why it is important to wear multiple layers of clothing while shoveling.  Then you can start with a lot of layers but when your body starts to heat up, you can start shedding layers to help regulate your body temperature.  Dress appropriately – what you wear when the temperature is barely below freezing will be much different than below zero temperatures with cold wind chills.  Always wear gloves to protect your hands and always where something over your head to help keep your body warm enough.  A good pair of boots will also help keep your feet warm and dry, while also giving you good traction on ice.

Equipment – Choosing the right equipment for snow removal depends on a number of factors – your age, your height, your physical health, how big of a drive way/sidewalk you have, how much snow your area of the country gets, the type of snow you are trying to move, etc.  There are lots of different options, but for most people with just a side walk and/or an average sized driveway, the tool of choice is going to be a snow shovel or snow pusher.  Make sure that the snow shovel you pick is appropriate for your height.  You will want a shovel with a handle that doesn’t force you to bend over too far.  For people with larger driveways or for people who can’t physically shovel snow for health reasons, a snow blower or snow plow may be a better choice.   You can search Amazon for snow shovels here.  You can search for snow blowers here.

Shoveling Driveways

Shoveling techniques are going to depend on the type of snow and how much snow has accumulated on the ground.  For light snow with less than 3″ of accumulation, I typically use a snow pusher with a very wide blade.  This allows you to accumulate a lot of snow without lifting the blade.  I will clear the snow making one pass on each side of my driveway.  Then I will push snow to the sides of the driveway, first pushing the snow to one side then turning around and pushing snow to the other side.  This is a very quick method and it reduces the amount of walking you have to do.  The goal here is to always be pushing snow off the driveway whenever you are moving.

For driveways that have more accumulation or have heavy/wet or packed snow (due to wind and drifts), the snow pusher doesn’t work as well.  In these situations, you will want to use a snow shovel. For heavy/wet snow, the key is to not try to lift too much snow at one time.  If you fill the shovel with too much snow at a time, you will tire out more quickly.  If the snow in your driveway is hard and packed down, you will need to use the edge of your blade to chop the snow before lifting it up and throwing it.  Make sure you chop the snow into small enough pieces or, again, you will be lifting too much and tire out too quickly.

If you know a big storm is coming, one thing you can do to help ease the stress on your body is to remove snow while it is still snowing.  It may seem silly to be shoveling your driveway while it is still snowing but removing 3″ of snow twice is easier than removing 6″ of snow once, especially if you use the pushing technique I described above.  The goal here isn’t to clear the driveway perfectly each time, it is to just do a quick clearing in order to remove as much snow as possible in a small amount of time.  If you miss a spot, you will catch it later when the snow is done falling.

Shoveling Sidewalks

Many cities have ordinances that require home-owners to clear sidewalks within a certain number of hours after it snows.  Some of the same things that apply for driveways also apply for sidewalks.  However, with sidewalks you may be able to find a shovel or pusher that has the same width blade as the width of the sidewalk.  This speeds up snow removel because you only have to make one pass.

Everything you need to know about snow shovels

Snow shovels are simple tools that make clearing your driveway or sidewalk easier.  They are much cheaper than snow blowers and they offer you a great physical workout.    There are two main types of snow shovels: shovels and pushers.

Snow Shovels

Man-shoveling

Snow shovels are used to lift snow up and throw it.  Shovels are useful with heavier, deeper snow.  The blades are typically not as wide as snow pushers and the handles are shorter.  The blades are curved to allow the snow to be scooped up and thrown to the side.

Snow Pushers

Snow pushers are used to push snow from one place to another.  Pushers are useful for lighter snow.  The blades are usually very wide and allow a lot of snow to be pushed at one time.  Pushers don’t work as well in thick, wet snow but are perfect for clearing large areas like driveways.

Both types of snow shovels have their uses and having one of each type can make snow removal easier no matter what type of snow you face.

The best snow shovel I’ve ever used is the 18 inch True Temper Mountain Mover.  I’ve used mine for the last 5 winters and it is still going strong.  The best snow pusher I’ve used is the is the True Temper SnoBoss.  Below is a table of some of the other highest rated snow removal tools.

NameTypeBlade WidthHeightColorStarsPrice
Suncast SC3250Shovel/Pusher18"53"Green4.5$$
Garant App30KDU AlpinePusher30"57"Yellow4.5$$$
Suncast SC3950 Double GripShovel/Pusher18"52"Black4.5$$$
Garant YPSS26U YukonSleigh Shovel26"61"Blue4.5$$$$
Suncast SC1350Shovel/Pusher18"51"Green4.5$$
Garant NP091KDUCar Shovel9.1"38"Red5$
The Snowcaster 48UPHPusher48"57"Blue5$$$$
The Snowcaster 30SCNPusher36"52"Blue4.5$$$$
Power Dynamics SnodozerPusher30"AdjustableBlack4$$$$
Rugg 26PBSLW Backsaver LiteWateShovel18"54"Grey4.5$$