The way to shovel snow properly and safely begins with a solid foundation: strengthening your core.
Your spine supports the weight of your body. And because you can’t lift yourself up through the snow, you need to engage your back and abdominal muscles to do the job properly. This means using your legs to shovel.
So how do you learn proper form for snow shoveling?
Start by standing at a shoveling location – whether that’s a driveway, sidewalk, or another area – and extending your arm straight out in front of you. You should be relaxed, but firm, because you won’t be moving the shovel this way (going up and down the hill).
Instead, your goal should be to “dig in” at the very center, making sure that the “digging” muscles are contracted and concentrated on the area. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready for the next step!
Your back must remain straight and your abdomen must relax. You don’t want to tuck it in and become over-toned; instead, keep it tight and allow it to pull you into the posture you’re going for.
To start, you simply want to extend one arm and place the opposite hand on the opposite side of the “back” shoulder. Then use your legs to shovel, lifting each leg and bending the knee so that your thigh is in line with the elbow. This is a natural movement of the body, one that strengthens the back muscles.
From this position, you’ll want to straighten out the spine so that the opposite shoulder is behind the shovel. Now you can drive the shovel all the way down to the base of the snow pole. You may need to stand in a lunge position for this, using your legs to push you forward. Then return to the starting position and repeat.
Now you need to use your arms for the shoveling, pushing the shovel in by bending the wrist and elbow. Keep your hands gloved, so that you can get the best blood flow and circulation.
Finally, if you want to avoid getting injured, practice proper form as often as you can. The proper form is getting the snow shoveling job done in the safest way possible and not necessarily in the fastest time.
Don’t shovel right before or after a workout. And, if you need to go home afterwards, make sure that you have some place comfortable to lie down and rest and have a cup of hot cocoa!