Shoveling--whether it is snow, dirt, rock or any other material--is one of those things that almost everyone has done, but few have done correctly. Shoveling can put serious strain on your back and other areas when it is done incorrectly. Next time you shovel, follow a few simple tips that will not add any time to your project and could make your back feel a lot better when you are done.
Select the Right Shovel
Show, dirt and gravel are all things you shovel, but the shovels you should use are notably different. Making sure you have the right shovel for the job will make it go much easier because you will not be struggling to get the shovel to work with material it was not designed to handle. For shoveling gravel or other heavy material, use a wide-edged heavy steel shovel with a deep well. For snow, the familiar wide, flat, light-metal shovel is best. Narrow, flat-edged garden spades are good for cutting through roots and other obstructions in the soil.
For digging holes, set the shovel squarely in front of you and straight down. Step on top of the blade with one foot, but do not push down with your leg. Instead, lean your whole body forward, letting your weight do the work rather than your leg muscles. For snow or other shoveling that requires a forward motion to scoop up the material, use your whole body rather than just your arms to advance the shovel.
The biggest mistake most people make when shoveling is to discard the material by using their arms to fling it off to one side. This twists your body and puts all the weight of the shovel on your arms and shoulders. Instead of flinging away the dirt or snow, swivel your whole body to one side while holding the full shovel out in front of you, then just twist the shovel sideways and let the material drop.