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We had the most torrential snowstorm in the midwest a few weeks ago, and my back is still aching from all of that shoveling. I once heard someone say that if your back hurts from a day of shoveling, you're not doing it right.

Of course, I didn't realize that there was a right or wrong way to shovel snow until I discussed the issue with a trainer at my gym. Apparently, yes! There is a wrong way to shovel, and that wrong way was exactly how I've been doing it all this time.

So, in the spirit of turning over a new leaf in 2010, here's the rundown of how you should be shoveling your snow:

1. Do some stretching before you head outside, just to limber up like you would before any other workout.

2. When buying a shovel, invest in one that has a smaller blade -- the less snow you pick up, the less strain on your body. You may also want to try a lightweight, ergonomic shovel -- preferably one with a bent handle (pictured). A shovel with a plastic blade will be lighter than a steel blade, but the choice is yours.

shovel, snow shovel, Lowe'sThe True Temper shovel has a narrow 18-inch blade and an ergonomically bent handle that helps scoop up snow. Photo: Lowe's

3. If you can, avoid lifting the snow while shoveling. Instead, push the snow to the side.If you must lift the snow, stand with your feet hip distance apart and keep the shovel close to your body.

4. Always bend from the knees, not the back or torso.

5. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift the snow to help provide extra back support.

6. Pause every 10 minutes or so to catch your breath and make sure you're not overexerting yourself.

7. Avoid drinking coffee before going outside in the snow, as it can place more stress on your heart by increasing your heart rate and causing blood vessels to narrow.

8. Dress in layers and remove layers as you work up a sweat to avoid overhearing.

9. Drink plenty of water before, during and after you shovel your driveway.

ergonomic shovelQVC

A few other cool snow shovels we found include wheels, but no motor, so they reduce pollution and physical strain! The Wovel is touted as the world's safest snow shovel; it even won an award from Time magazine. Then there's this lightweight ergonomic shovel we found on QVC for just $65.

Got any other snow-shoveling tips? Leave a comment and let us know!

  • sucellus

    I have this snow shovel that looks like a snow plow. You can't really pick up snow with it so it isn't great for everything, but its great for most snow falls!

  • Adrianne Welborn

    I,m living through the storm of the century and have a lot of first hand use of a snow shovel. The ones you push are great till you have had 40+ inches of snow and have run out of places to put it. The only place is up and up and up. The crooked looking shovel is great. Take it from someone who has been around for most (I said most) of the storms that made the record books.

  • buzz

    The right way?? Let the kids do it!!!!!

  • Kids Ain't Free

    I'm in total agreement. But it's best if you get someone ELSE's kids to do it. They charge less, do a better job, and come back the next time it snows.

  • Jennifer Armstrong

    I watched a neighbor shovel the snow from one side of the driveway to the other. When he got to the grass line, he kind of kicked the snow shovel instead of lifting it and tossing it. Looks easier on the back, but probably need heavier boots.

  • me

    Nah, I did MY entire driveway in sneakers. I started the same as your neighbor, back and forth. It was faster to push the snow the long way though. When it clumped too much to push any more I lifted the snow to the sides. Great workout, but the new snow came and it looks like I didn't do my driveway at all! Too pooped to go out again ... still snowing too.

  • Bruce

    I own one of these babys.
    Love it on lighter to medium depths.

  • Bob

    I think you forgot the most important one. Shovel to the side, not across your chest, this is bad for the heart.

  • jimbarry1946


  • John

    I have found the proper way to clear my driveway when I lived where it snowed, was to hire a teen. It worked great for me. I now Live in the greater Phoenix area and have no need for a snow shovel or snow at all.

  • Fred Bazornski

    Don't let it pile up !!!! Start right after it does,and if it's snowing hard,take abreak, and start again. It's easier to remove up to say, 4 inches. several times than to remove 12 or more all at once.While you are at it remember the old folks in the neighborhood.

  • John

    You have the right idea.
    I'm 79. Shovel my own snow
    The hardest part is when after you finish, the snow plow comes by and throws it back into your driveway. This could happen about 3 or 4 times before they decide not to come back.

  • Beau

    I'm glad you mentioned the older folks Fred. I enjoy the snow, as long as it's not too much. I usually take a walk early in the morning after it snows and put all my neighbors newspapers by their doors. They never know it's me, just boot prints in the snow.

  • John Busch

    I love my 7 hp Ariens Snow Thrower, but my neighborhood has become enmored with my neighbor's new wheeled snow shovel. Several neighbors have borrowed it and love it. See it here:

  • Thomas Peacock

    The best bet yet, a Kaufman Snow Scoop. Everyone in the UP of Michigan has one. No lifting at all!

  • Wilfredo Gonzalez

    Pay someone to shovel the snow.

  • Jeff

    If you have a wide driveway, say 16 ft., always clear 1 path down the center first. Now work one side from center to the grass line then the other. It drives me crazy to often see people start at the grass line & work toward the center..... they end up carrying snow on the shovel to the grass line. I see those with sno-blowers make the same mistake.

  • rich

    This is how I do it(I live in New England). I do it this way because when I get to the side I don't lift the snow all the way up, I just have to lift it a little. It creates an arch/curved look to the side. Also, my mother always told me to throw the snow as far away from the driveway in December so you won't have to throw it over snow banks in February. I also go out every few hours. Better to shovel 3-4 inches than 12-15 inches at a time.

  • GI JOE

    I use a military issue flame thrower.

  • William



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