Let's be clear. No one in our area should be without a snowblower or a contract to have your snow removed. And if think about that berm getting formed after your snow removal company has already come by there is justification for at least a small 2 stage snowblower. Usually I see a group of twenty somethings shoveling but they only do that for one year and then realize how hard it is and get a snowblower.
Okay the first thing we got get ready is the body. Are you ready for the physical exertion of snow shoveling? Is your cardiac risk low? I.e. cholesterol is normal, no family history of heart disease or you have seen a doctor and gotten the ok. A 2011 study, published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, found that in the U.S. suffer an average of 11,500 injuries and emergencies each year due to snow shoveling. More than half of them fall under the category of acute musculoskeletal injury, that is, pulling muscles, slipping a disk and throwing one’s backout. Every year people die of heart attacks from shoveling and that risk is higher for those of us over 55.
Next get your equipment ready. The shovel is the most important tool. So let’s talk about it. You need 2 shovels one to push and one to lift. Notice I didn't say throw, that’s reserved for the snowblower. It is very hard on the body to throw so don’t do it. In Tahoe and Truckee the moisture content is going to be on the higher side. Which will make the shovel full heavier, 9 to 45 lbs depend on the the size of the shovel and the moisture content, think sierra cement. To clear a 16 ft by 30 ft driveway covered by one foot of wet snow, they would be moving approximately four tons of snow. A 2 stage snowblower can throw between 1200 lbs and 3000 lbs per minute, fyi. So we need small shovels especially to lift with. I like the traditional square snow shovel for this. An aluminum handle for lightness. A slight curve in the handle will let us stay more upright which will put less stress on the spine. The curve lets us choose where to put our hands. I know your thinking of the z handle ones and if it fits your body well it is ok. An additional handle that can positioned anywhere on the shaft will also keep us more upright. There are some shovels that come with the 2 handles and if you buy one of these try to get one were you can adjust the location of the second handle to fit your body. If you have flexibility problems in your hips or back it is more important to keep yourself upright. Then a pusher type shovel, because we don't have to carry the snow to far. I like to push from my belly.I place my hands on the shovel and my hands against the belly. The pusher shovel should be slightly bigger your lifting shovel. but not enormous.
O.K. so you got the shovel now get it ready with some teflon or silicone spray so the snow doesn't stick. Don't; forget the shoe chains so you don't slip and fall. Do a warm up and then stretch out those stiff muscles. Remember that in the morning we are more prone to injure our bones, joints and also have a heart attack.
So first we push the snow as close to the sides as possible. Then we prepare to lift. To lift the snow get your feet wide and really super stiffen your core. Then bend at the knees and hips and keep the spine straight. Bring the load as close to your body as possible. Using your legs straighten up. Make sure you don’t bend or twist the spine. Then move to side of driveway and dump, repeat. Remember to take breaks, switch sides and switch hands. All often. Also remember that timing is important if you wait too long, the snow gets walked or driven on then the snow gets harder and possibly heavier.
For information on Dr. Triestman
For more information on back pain