Despite the increased automation of snow removal, there is still a need for manual tools powered by muscular force. Ergonomic and bent-handle shovels are not a new innovation, though they are the preferred manual snow solution over traditional straight-handle shovels, aiming to require less force and deliver a non-stressful working posture.
With many iterations currently available on the market, Joe is outlining the most popular types of ergonomic shovels, as well as their mechanical advantages and disadvantages.
There are three choices of material when it comes to shovels: plastic, aluminum or steel.
Of course, steel shovels are the most resilient; however, they are also the heaviest.
Aluminum is a lighter material, but it is also soft and easily damaged.
Plastic is the most optimal material – it is the lightest, easiest to lift, can bend repeatedly without breaking, and is most always outfitted with a metal wear-strip to cut through ice and scrape down to surfaces under the snow.
Considering an alternative type of shovel? Perform the following experiment first: Scoop a load of snow and pull it close to your body. Then, slowly hold out the load farther and farther away from you. You’ll discover that the snow will feel increasingly heavier as you extend.
Shoveling large amounts of snow for a prolonged period (in a repetitive motion) unarguably increases heart rate and boosts blood pressure, while also straining the lower back and increasing vulnerability to injury.
Traditional shoveling exerts push force from the hands vertically to the position of the hips.
This off-axis motion creates increased lower back strain as the user forces their midsection to twist. Straight handle shovels are consequently only effective when pushing snow, not lifting it.
Ergonomic shovels are designed to reduce strain by using the principles of biomechanical stress to shift lower back pushing tasks above hip level. However, many brands have placed the angle of the shaft or an additional handle in positions or configurations that make it more difficult for the operator to raise the blade end.
Ergonomic Bent Shovel
Ergonomic does not necessarily mean ‘easy.’ Shovels solely with a bent handle can make the pushing and scooping angle hard to adjust, and still require twisting the body to toss snow aside.
Ergonomic Shovel with Additional Handle
Competitors that manufacture two-handled shovels where the second handle is fixed, cause the front hand to uncomfortably bear most of the overall weight due to an inefficient lever created by the handle design.
Ergonomic Shovel with Removable Handle
Removable handles are meant for more optimal hand positioning and easier lifting. They work by attaching to most long shaft tools by placing the collar perpendicular to the tool shaft, then rotating 90 degrees toward the shaft to achieve a snug lock.
But the forces of real world shoveling will loosen and detach these accessories quickly, especially over time as they are attached and detached repeatedly.
Ergonomic Shovel with Adjustable Handle
Designed with the intention of increasing productivity and safety, while reducing injury, ergonomic shovels with adjustable handles allow the user to customize their grip. While this sounds ideal and promises longer throwing time, a span between the handles that is too wide or too close together will result in bad posture, less control over the shovel and harder distribution of heavy lifting.
The Evolution of the Shovelution
Models with a second handle, as well as removable and adjustable handle solutions, all suffer from the same fundamental fatal flaw: when is use, they are RIGIDLY ATTACHED auxiliary shovel handles, causing the user to either absorb the shock in the elbow or shoulder, or allow the midsection to twist when slowing the shovel down after the throw. Both of these consequences are not only uncomfortable, but inefficient at best and dangerous at worst.
With either of the aforementioned products, the only way to avoid these issues is to lift very little snow, and toss it only a short distance, neither of which are helpful in real world shoveling applications.
Contrast all this with the Snow Joe’s latest innovation in snow clearing technology – the Shovelution Snow Shovel with Flexible Spring-Assist Handle.
Its intuitive design incorporates a NON-RIGID, FLEXIBLE handle, so there is no shock for the body to absorb. Furthermore, it is SPRING-LOADED, which means the body will not absorb the excess throw energy – that energy is returned to the shovel, thus creating less work for the user and resetting the shovel for the next load.
Want proof? By relieving back muscles and employing the upper body to do the lifting and throwing, the Shovelution sends lifting leverage to the lower hand – reducing back strain by up to 30%.
This winter, shovel smarter, not harder. Experience the Shovelution today!