This may seem silly – doesn’t everyone know how to shovel? But there is a way to work smarter and more effectively to get the job done with a minimum of strain and hassle.
1. Prepare your shovel
The front edge of a snow shovel takes a beating, and works best when it is smooth and sharp. DIngs and dents reduce its efficiency If you have a metal shovel, hammer the edge straight if it’s bent; if it’s plastic use a utility knife to carve off any burrs that have formed on the end. Tighten a loose handle by driving a large hex head sheet metal screw through the blade socket and into the handle.
2. Prepare yourself
Don’t be in a hurry to get outside. Stretch thoroughly using the same sorts of moves that runners, mountain bikers and other athletes use. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. Then dress in removable layers, put a bottle of water in your coat pocket so you can stay hydrated, and put on boots with good traction.
3. Have a plan
Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you’re going to dump the snow. Envision the area as a rectangle, identifying the sides and center point. Determine where you’re going to drop the snow. If possible, You may have two or three drop points.
You want to start at the center of the rectangle, working out, so that you leave the shortest distance to the end when you’re tired. Don’t block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice.
4. Clear cars first, before starting to shovel
Brush the snow off the cars, then clear around the cars.
5. Take care of yourself
Use your leg muscles as much as possible – push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can’t push it. Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position. Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible. Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible. Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage. Don’t twist your upper body as you throw snow.
Stay hydrated while shoveling, stopping to drink from your water bottle as you work. Rest when you need to.