Bent-Shaft Shovels Reduce Physical Pain during Snow-Shoveling, Study

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Clearing snow everyday in the morning during winters is a routine that can't be avoided even though it is a painful process.

Ryan Lewinson, a bio-medical engineering grad student at the University of Calgary, has found that a 'goose-neck' shovel ( bent-shaft)not only helps to clear the snow better than the other shovels; it also reduces sore muscles.

The bent-shaft shovels have been found to ease strain on the lower back by 16 per cent while lifting snow off the pavement.

"We were primarily interested in looking at lower back flexion to see how much bending people were doing when using one type of snow shovel or the other," Lewinson said in a statement. "What we found is that when you use the bent shaft snow shovel, you don't bend over quite as much."

Nearly 12,000 people receive treatment for snow-shoveling injuries and most of them report injuries to the lower back.

"Bending isn't what's causing lower back pain. It's not that you bend less, there has to be a load that is causing the pain. We went one step further to show that because of that lower flexion, there is that reduced load as well," Lewinson said, reports.

Lewinson conducted the snow shovel study when he was an undergraduate at the University of Ottawa. He said that the study was only focused on the lifting part. So, it is unsure whether the bent-shaft shovel would be useful for pushing, chopping and throwing snow as well, or a straight one would do a better job.

"Our study found the bent shovel is better for lifting, which I think is one of the most important components to shovelling snow. It's possible that the straight shovel could be better for other aspects of shovelling, but we'd need further research to determine that," Lewinson said.

The finding has been published in Applied Ergonomics.

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