How to Shovel Snow without Dying


Nobody wants to shovel snow, and everyone’s going to die, so this post might qualify as the least useful thing ever written. But if you have to shovel snow and don’t feel like dying quite yet, here are the tips I’ve found help kill both birds with one stone . . . without actually killing any birds . . . or using stones . . . okay, forget the metaphor; here’s how to shovel snow without dying:

Do NOT Bundle Up

The big temptation when preparing to shovel snow is to layer up with long underwear, sweat pants, snow pants, three layers of socks, boots, five t-shirts, a thermal, a fleece, a sweatshirt, a sweater, two coats, a scarf, a ski mask, a toque, a third coat with a hood, ear muffs, and all the gloves in the house. Well, no, the big temptation is to put off shoveling until early May (which isn’t the worst plan in the world), but the moderately large temptation is to bundle up. Don’t.

You’re going to be shoveling snow, dude. That’s a workout. Working out makes you heat up and soak all your hot furnace of undergarments and overcoats with the bittersweet nectar of perspiration. Which is gross. Layers also restrict your movement, which makes you work harder, which, in this wearable hothouse you’ve created for yourself, could kill you.

Cover your skin to avoid frostbite. Coat over a t-shirt, jeans, boots, gloves, and a hat work for me. Notice how I’m not dead?

Spray Your Shovel

This is a must. WD-40, you got that? Spray your shovel with WD-40 to keep the heavy, murderous snow from sticking to the blade, forcing you to do extra work, and trying to kill you with every scoop. I promise you, this will add 600 years to your life. Give or take. It will also save you from doing about 600 pounds of extra snow-removal work (that’s not really an exaggeration . . . I may have understated it).

Shovel Uphill

When you’re shoveling your driveway, your standard inclination might be to use gravity to your benefit. Move the snow down the hill as you shovel, save yourself some work. Your back has a message for you: Stop it, jerkface!

When you shovel downhill, your placing the shovel a few feet in front of (and several inches below) your feet. This means you are bending over even more than shoveling would otherwise require. You don’t want to bend over more when shoveling. It hurts your back. You know when your back will stop hurting if you keep shoveling like that? When you’re dead. That is counterproductive.

Instead, shovel uphill. You will have to bend less, which will make the shoveling (and the not dying) easier.

Move Your Feet

Some people might think you look goofy, but I don’t mind looking goofy (I apologize if the shock of this kills you; you not dying was the purpose of this post; I really hope it hasn’t backfired). I don’t mind you looking goofy, either, as long as you’re breathing. Where was I? Oh, yes. Goofiness. I like to use my momentum to make shoveling a bit easier. I shovel from the middle of my drive out to the sides, and take a bit of a run/shuffle approach toward the snow. I get one or two steps in before my shovel hits the snow, I drive through the line of powder I’m hoping to clear (this is not a drug reference), and then, with the momentum of a few steps, I send the snow in my shovel on its merry way into the yard. Then I turn toward the other side of the driveway, flip the shovel in my hands, and get a shuffling start toward the next heap.

Basically, it looks like I’m running back and forth across my driveway, like a modified shuttle run from the Presidential Physical Fitness tests back in grade school. It’s a nice little workout. Not too stressful. Won’t kill you. And in the winter, shoveling snow is often the only workout I get. I find that it helps alleviate the stress on my arms and back while also allowing me to stretch my legs a bit. It also speeds up the shoveling without shortening your life.

Okay, do with this as you will. I don’t have the right to tell you how to shovel or whether or not to die, but that’s so funny because I think I just did. You’re welcome.


5 Replies to “How to Shovel Snow without Dying”

  1. I am so happy that I do not need to know this information, even though I just read the post. I’m fairly certain that as long as I live in North Texas I will not have to worry about shoveling snow. Hooray Texas!

  2. I’m pretty sure my desert-dwelling southeastern New Mexico self could have used this post on Monday. I’m surprised I’m not dead. Thankfully the sun came out and warmed us up to 60F on Wednesday and melted our 12″ blizzard. Pretty sure that’s the only thing that saved my life. {But I will remember this if ever it snows again. ever.}

  3. LOL, yes, this: “Working out makes you heat up and soak all your hot furnace of undergarments and overcoats with the bittersweet nectar of perspiration. Which is gross.”

    We don’t get as much snow here as you get there, but we’ve had a few huge snowstorms and I thought I would die… the piles on the sides of the driveway were above my hip. That’s a workout, yo!

    You are smart. And funny. 🙂

  4. thanks for the info but I could have used it two years ago but we got a snow blower so now I just take
    a winter stroll behind a snowblower

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