Straight handle, curved handle, flat blade, scooped blade. There are so many options when selecting a snow shovel it can be overwhelming. We have done some research, and testing of our own, to give you the scoop on the best snow removal tools.
Straight vs. Curved Handle
Curved handle snow shovels have been out for a few years. But are they worth the money? The short answer is ‘maybe’. The idea behind a short handle is to reduce bending forward when you scoop the snow. In some studies, a bent handle can reduce the load on the lower back by up to 16%. That reduction in load could add up depending on how much snow you are moving and how heavy. One thing to note is that only considers lifting the snow, not throwing it. The trick to shoveling is to use your legs to get most of your power. As people fatigue, they use their lower back instead of their legs to create force and leverage. A concept that can lead to a great deal of pain in following days.
Now that you’ve lifted the snow off the ground, what do you do with it? The ergonomics of a curved handle cause the majority of the weight to be on the front hand due to an inefficient lever. When you try and clear the snow, that font hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder must work harder than with a straight handle.
Based on our research and own experience, we feel it is best to use a traditional straight handle and reduce the risk of injury to multiple body parts. Plus, you most likely grew up shoveling with a straight handle so you are already accustomed to that design.
In this category, the straight shovel is our favorite!
Snow Shovel vs. Snow Push Shovel
I have to be honest, until I really started to look into this I had no idea how many snow shovels there really were. For the sake of keeping things relatively simple, I have narrowed it down to the two most popular varieties.
To determine which one is best you need to understand what each is intended to be used for. Let’s start with the snow shovel. This has more of a flat and square blade and is best for lifting the snow. Let’s say you are clearing a sidewalk and need to pile the snow; a snow shovel may be your best bet. The push shovel is best for, well, pushing snow. In the instance of light, powdery snow a push shovel may be best to clear large areas where you don’t have to lift the snow. These blades are usually wider (18-24”) and have a rounded feature. For most people the most versatile shovel will be the traditional snow shovel as this will allow you to both push and lift the snow.
We only covered two of the many types of snow shovels but we encourage you to check out other kinds and if you have questions, let us know.
No matter what shovel you choose, please make sure you dress warm, stretch before you shovel and stay hydrated. The majority of injuries we see after a snow storm are related to shoveling snow. For more information on how to keep yourself healthy when the snow piles up, check out our post “A Chiropractor’s Guide to Surviving a Snow Storm”.