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  • Writer's pictureMarc Lalonde

How to turn your snow shovelling experience into a workout with one small hack

It’s hard to believe that the fluffy white stuff that falls from the sky can be the cause of so many injuries, but there it is.

As a homeowner, I take it as a small point of pride that I have never hired a snow-clearing contract company to do my driveway since I moved into the house in July 2005.

Fast-forward two decades and I still haven’t had a plow ever come to my driveway. That’s two decades of shovelling my way out of my driveway and lord knows I have seen it all. I have seen a neighbour put a tarp on her car before a snowstorm and drive that car out into the road – with the tarp still covering everything -- to get the snow off instead of just brushing it off in her driveway.

I am doing what I can this year to make it a season of healing for myself from trauma and my close friends, but this, dear reader, is for YOU.

When we are shovelling , one small hack – one wondrous little move – can save your back from injury and turn your show shoveling intro a great leg workout.

So, standard shovelling hand placement involves one hand at the top of the shovel, holding the handle. The other hand – the bottom hand – is usually placed halfway up the shovel’s shaft. Most often, people hold the shovel from the underneath side, forcing shovellers to engage their lower back to displace the snow.

This can have a deleterious effect on older bodies, and the more you do it, the higher your risk of back injury. That lumbar section of the lower back can be injured with as little as 40 pounds of pressure, and it’s really quite painful and makes life exceedingly unpleasant.

So, turn your bottom hand upside down on the shovel.

That’s it. Holding the shovel with your hand on top of the shovel will push the force of displacing the show intro your legs and not your back, thereby making a more pleasurable experience for all.

You’ll get an actual workout and your shovelling can count as your exercise for the day, provided you do it for long enough. Doing your steps might be fine. Doing a walkway is even better. Doing the whole driveway? That’s a great way to work the body.


My year without sugar continues apace and the effects have been nothing short of unbelievable. Swelling in my arthritic joints is down a ridiculous amount and I have been running again, which is kind of unbelievable given the status of my right leg, where a torn quadriceps has permanently damaged me and limited my capacity for movement.

But there it is. I decided to get back to running for couple of reasons – not the least of which is the mental stimulation that it requires. It’s nigh impossible to spend any time running and let my mind wander to whatever might be bothering me.

That said, I have kept my runs to generally 3 km or less for the moment – accounting for the snow, the slipperiness of the roads and the fact my dogs are usually in tow – but the progress has been unmistakable.

As author and podcaster Glennon Doyle likes to say, “we can do hard things,” and we can. We just need to do them one day at a time, one run at a time, one meal at a time and be present for everything.

Today’s workout will focus on upper-body push-pulls after a workout that entailed a lot of leg work yesterday. 10 sets, with bench press, chest flyes, triceps extensions, and two other pushes, with five or so pulls, including lat pulldowns and seated rows.

I have love in my life and that makes me stronger than anything. It’s the strongest thing in the world.

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