For basic snow shoveling needs, like walkways, front steps and even a small driveway, we recommend the True Temper 18-inch Ergonomic Mountain Mover ($26). We also recommend using a Stout Backsaver Grip Attachment ($14) for better ergonomics and to reduce the risk of injury (which can also be added to any existing shovel you’re happy with).
The True Temper offers durability, a good-sized scoop and a leading edge that won’t gouge up your deck or catch on your brick patio. It has a curved shaft that lets you stand straighter while moving snow. Adding the Backsaver handle attachment actually changes the mechanics of your body’s shoveling motion, greatly reducing the strain on your back as well as overall exertion. Also, it’s built to last. I’ve had mine for six years and counting.
I came to these conclusions after more than 25 hours of research (most of which was spent reading studies on shoveling ergonomics) as well as 19 total man hours of actual snow shoveling. When it was all over, our team had tested out 14 different shovels, many of them with and without an aftermarket handle, resulting in a total of 25 different shovel configurations tested.
Why should you trust me
Between 10 years in construction, growing up in Vermont at the end of a two-mile dirt road and spending the majority of my life in New England, I’ve put in some significant time standing behind a snow shovel. Also, the decade of construction was not kind to my body. Days spent carrying lumber and plywood, combined with my odd height (6’5”), have led me to a point where my back now has the personality of a grumpy old man. I have no major problems currently, but it doesn’t take much shoveling for the aches and pains to get going. So, in addition serving our readers, I have personal reasons to get this one right.
How we picked
There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a snow shovel: the overall style of the shovel, what it’s made of, the wear strip, the scoop size and, most importantly, ergonomics.
Ergonomics come first because shoveling snow is brutal on your body. A study published in 2011 by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine (the result of 17 years of research), concluded that an average of 11,500 injuries and emergencies each year in the U.S. are due to snow shoveling. Many of these (34%) have to do with the lower back, and the majority of them (54%) fall under the category of acute musculoskeletal exertion, i.e. throwing out your back. As such, finding a shovel that reduces body strain, particularly on your back, is extremely important.
Consider this fact, presented by the Ontario Occupational Health Clinic: “If an individual were to clear a 16-foot by 30-foot driveway covered in one foot of wet snow, they would be moving approximately four tons of snow.” Yikes.
I spoke with Joe Saffron, Director of Marketing and Product Development at True Temper, a leading manufacturer of snow shovels, and he made the great point that shoveling snow is not only an aggressive workout, but is also a repetitive motion not replicated any other time during the year. In other words, your back and arms likely aren’t prepared for the exertion.
One thing that can really help the ergonomics of a shovel is a secondary handle placed about two-thirds of the way down the shaft. Multiple academic studies have shown that this can greatly reduce back strain and reduce the risk of injury. Our own testing also backed this up. Testers noted that the second handle shifts the workload more evenly to both arms as opposed just the leading one.
Unfortunately, there’s really nothing in the way of a comprehensive snow shovel comparison, so we knew from the onset that our own testing would play a large role in our final recommendations.
To get an idea of what’s out there, I checked out Home Depot, Amazon, Lowes, Grainger, WalMart, Sears, Northern Tool and the websites of the most prominent snow shovel manufacturers: EraPro, Dart, Suncast, True Temper and Garant (the last two are actually the same company; Garant is simply based in Canada). All told, I investigated upwards of 50 to 75 shovels.
Understanding that a secondary handle would be a key addition to the chosen shovel, I first located all of the tools available that come with one attached: the SnowBow ($40), the Suncast Double Grip ($39), the Bigfoot Power Lift ($31) and the True Temper SnoBoss, which has a double shaft and a perpendicular handle ($35).
To fully explore the ergonomic possibilities, we decided to test a wide variety of regular shovels representing the different styles with and without the aftermarket secondary handles. Three of those shovels had bent shafts: the Rugg 26PBSLW ($22), Dart BHS18 ($30) and Suncast SC3250 ($23). One, the True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover ($26), had a curved shaft. Two were standard straight shafts: the Suncast Powerblade SCP3500 ($38) and True Temper Mountain Mover with VersaGrip ($27). Two were grain shovels: the Suncast SG1600 ($16) and True Temper Arctic Blast Poly Snow Scoop ($27).
As a control unit, we added the Suncast SN1000 ($11) to represent the old-fashioned grandpa shovel. We also included the Voile TelePro Avalanche Shovel ($40) in order to see where it fit in with the rest. We tested 14 different shovels and, with the secondary handles, 25 different shovel configurations.
A total of four people used the shovels to clear a driveway, four long walkways, three different front stoops, three decks, a long set of deck stairs (14 steps and one landing), a set of fieldstone steps, a stone patio and a brick patio. The shovelers varied in height and gender. They were male, 6’0”; male, 5’8”; male, 6’5”; and female, 5’10”. Testing occurred over the course of six days and after three different snowstorms. During this time, a wide range of temperatures caused a variety of snow density: light and fluffy, frozen and crunchy, and finally, melty and slushy.
First, let’s talk about the shovel itself. The Ames Mountain Mover is a really nice shovel all around, especially when it comes to ergonomics. It was the only one we tested with a curved shaft made of light and durable aluminum, which allowed the back to stand straighter while shoveling and also gave full flexibility of hand positioning up and down the shaft. It also offers stability in the scoop, eliminating the ‘pendulum effect’ of the bent shafts. The D-grip at the back end of the Mountain Mover is nice and large and no one had any problems fitting a chunky winter glove in the opening.
The business end of the Mountain Mover has a nylon wear strip, which makes for a durable and protected leading edge that won’t gouge or scratch your deck or walkway. I had no problem busting up ice and compacted snow on the deck steps with the shovel, and the steps came through the process un-marred. The wear strip is rounded, so it easily finds its way over uneven surfaces like the brick walkways or fieldstone steps.
The only downside to the nylon wear strip is that it’s a bit thick, which makes it harder to knife the shovel under compacted snow or into a semi-frozen snowbank. The shovel can still perform these tasks, but during side-by-side testing, there was a noticeable difference between the thicker Mountain Mover and thinner, strip-less or metal-stripped competitors. We feel that this is a worthy trade-off. The shovels with the metal wear strips can really do some damage and some of the ones without a strip already showed signs of wear after just a few hours of testing.
While we recommend the nylon strip, a company called Truper also makes a curved shaft shovel with a metal wear strip, the 33813 ($27). We didn’t test this model, but if you insist on the metal wear strip, it is likely that the Truper plus the Backsaver would offer similar benefits to the True Temper Mountain Mover.
The Backsaver handle also made shoveling the long flight of deck stairs much easier than with a traditional shovel. When standing on a step and pulling snow towards me (like paddling a canoe), the extra handle added a nice grip and let me stand further back from the shovel as I cleared off the steps.
But it is in the actual act of shoveling that the Backsaver pays for itself. While moving snow, everyone, regardless of their height, could feel the change in body mechanics and the reduced strain on the back. Shoveling snow is just plain easier with the added handle.
For what it’s worth, I also tested the Motus D-Grip, which is the other readily available aftermarket handle, but found it more difficult to keep tight on the shovel shaft and the grip area was smaller, giving larger gloved hands some problems. The Backsaver also raises the hand about 1 ½ inches higher than the Motus, so everyone was more comfortable using it.
So what happens when you combine two already-great products? Snow-shoveling nirvana. At $40 total ($26 for the shovel, $14 for the handle), it may seem like a lot to pay for a shovel. But the reduction of back strain is worth the cost. Tired arms are one thing, a herniated disc is another.
Everyone liked this tool, with one tester saying, “If this thing holds up, this is a real nice shovel.” But his concern for durability is warranted. Since the Bigfoot has no protective wear strip, the exposed poly blade showed significant amounts of damage after only three separate shoveling sessions; the corners became rounded over and the front edge sustained some serious dents. The plastic connection between the secondary handle and the shaft also looks suspicious. It performed fine during our tests, but everyone who held the shovel pointed it out as something they were worried about.
For what it’s worth, the Powerlift has a lifetime handle warranty (not the scoop, just the handle) and will replace it if any part breaks. It’s a nice gesture and shows that the company is willing to stand behind their tool, but if something breaks and you only have half of your driveway shoveled, you’re probably just going to go and get a new shovel without dealing with the warranty.
Durability aside, there were some other problems with the Bigfoot. One tester thought that the secondary handle was too loose on the shaft and said it was difficult to keep it steady while she scooped and tossed.
The large threaded shaft poses another issue. Because it is so fat–more than two inches in diameter when the others are all 1 ⅛ to 1 ¼–the Bigfoot is difficult to grip like a standard shovel with both hands on the shaft. When working in a confined area like the landing on the deck steps, the second handle isn’t practical, and with the main shaft too fat to grab on to, it’s awkward to use.
Overall though, it’s a mighty fine shovel and could even be our pick if not for the reduced durability.
A small shovel for small spaces
Though our top pick and runner-up were our preferred shovels, at least one of the others we tested proved to be a decent pick for compact storage spaces: the Voile TelePro Avalanche Shovel.
The verdict is that it is small. Really small. Really, really small and not practical for significant snow removal. But if you’re a city dweller and you only need to clear two steps and a little bit around your car, this might be something to consider. The short shaft won’t do your back any favors, but the fact that you can quickly disassemble the shovel to practically fit it inside a small pizza box makes it ideal for those with zero storage.
The compact nature of the Voile also makes it perfect for storing in your car or truck as an emergency shovel. Our research didn’t delve too deeply into car shovels, but there is no doubt that the Voile would make a nice one.
The SnowBow is an interesting design. It has a secondary handle that runs parallel to the main shaft, coming off it like the handle of a coffee cup. All of the testers liked the tool at a glance, but once they used it, they found it difficult to find a comfortable hand position. The secondary handle is a day-glo orange which everyone liked and thought would be helpful clearing around the mailbox by the road, but it wasn’t enough for anyone to choose this one as a stand-out.
The True Temper SnoBoss is just too massive to be a primary shovel. Landing somewhere between a combo shovel and one of the larger sled-style pushers, the testers concluded that the SnoBoss was too big for a shovel and too small for a pusher. “It’s unrealistic to lift that thing” one tester said. Its size (27-inch leading edge) also made it hard to use on the stoops and deck steps. One tester, a strong advocate for the sled-style snow pushers, said that since the mega size of the SnoBoss relegates it to a secondary shovel, you might as well forgo it and get a real pusher instead, like this one.
The Suncast Double-Grip has a bent shaft and an attached secondary handle, similar to the Backsaver. Going into testing, I thought that this one was a contender, but the build quality is so poor that it was quickly disregarded. The D-Grip has a seismic squeak and creak to it. Every time the shovel is moved it makes a noise. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes it clicks too. Dealing with 10 inches of wet snow is bad enough without having to listen to your shovel. I saw that many Amazon reviewers commented on the squeaks as well, so it wasn’t an isolated incident.
Beyond the aggravating noises, the D-grip is in a fixed position on the shaft, so there is no way to adjust if you’re particularly tall or short. Most of the testers felt that it was placed too close to the rear of the shaft, which made the tool uncomfortable compared to the True Temper/Backsaver combo.
The bent-handled shovels we looked at, the Rugg 26PBSLW, Suncast SC3250 and Dart BHS18, were liked but not loved. Our shovelers appreciated how they allowed for a straighter back, but the hand position was limited because of the bent shaft. With the Backsaver attached, they became more popular, but still the limitations of the bent shaft were there.
The straight-shaft shovels got zero respect during the shoveling trials. Compared to the others, they’re just too awkward to use. The tallest tester (me) had to bend over to at least 90 degrees at the waist just to load a scoop. The True Temper Mountain Mover with VersaGrip has a cool rear handle, designed for a two-handed grip while pushing snow, but it doesn’t offset the back-breaking exertion needed to scoop and toss.
The Suncast Powerblade SCP3500 is a long, straight-handled shovel, and even though no one picked it as their favorite (or even close to it), we do need to note that the claim that the blade is indestructible is no joke. Each tester took multiple swings smashing it against a driveway trying to crack or damage the scoop, but the result was nothing more than some slight scuffing. No one cared too much for the shovel, but everyone was impressed with its durability.
Among the straight-shafted shovels, the grain shovels (Suncast SG1600 and True Temper Arctic Blast Poly Snow Scoop) received specific scorn from our testers. The large scoops and short handles quickly added up to brutal back strain. One tester called them “old-fashioned backaches.”
But the true runt of the litter was the Suncast SN1000 old-school flat-bladed shovel that we tested as a control model. Compared to the others, it’s just useless. This is not a comment on the build quality of Suncast’s shovel, but rather a comment on the snow-moving ability of the overall design. After using the other shovels, this one was literally laughed at by the testers.
Because we were looking for the best one-tool solution for snow shoveling, I didn’t go deep on larger snow pushers. That said, one of our shovel testers is a very strong advocate for them, to the point where he made me go to his house to demonstrate how kickass he thought his was. And honestly, it was totally kickass.
They’re like wheelbarrows, but without the wheel, so once you scoop up a load of snow, you can sled it over somewhere else and slide it off. They’re capable of moving a massive amount of snow in a short period of time (our shovel tester does about half of his driveway with one, in areas the plow guy can’t get to).
They’re not going to do your front steps, but for large areas like driveways, they have almost a cult following.
What makes a good snow shovel?
To understand why and how we picked what we did, it helps to know a little more detail about our criteria.
Styles of shovel
Snow shovels are available in three main flavors; shovels, pushers and combos. Combos are the most versatile because they offer the benefits of the two other styles without any limitations. They can be used to scoop, toss and push snow, making them, as Saffron told me, the standard snow tool in the US.
Pushers are not designed for scooping or tossing. The small ones look like a snow plow on the end of a stick and the large ones take the form of giant, sled-style scoops. Pushers are popular in colder temperatures where snow tends to be drier and lighter. According to Saffron, Canada is a massive market for pushers, but they’re not nearly as popular in the US due to the warmer climate and heavier snow.
Shovels are the basic flat blade on a stick. It’s what you remember your grandfather using (Charlie Brown used one too). The scoop is one-dimensional and is in line with the shaft, so they’re not good at pushing snow (or anything else really, as our testing discovered).
Beyond combos, pushers and shovels, there are a few other variations that I looked at.
Marked by their large scoops and short handles, grain shovels are popular among the burly strongman crowd. This article, written by Mark Clement, tool expert and host of the MyFixItUpLife radio show, offers the best summary of their advantages (durability, massive scoop). Because they can shovel snow one minute and be used as a stand-up dust pan the next, they’re popular on construction sites.
Also available are avalanche shovels designed for the backpacking and skiing crowd. With removable handles and metal scoops, they provide portability and the ability to chop into compacted snow in extreme conditions.
Nine of the 14 shovels that we tested were combos. We added in two grain shovels, an avalanche shovel, a flat-bladed old-school shovel and the larger True Temper SnoBoss shovel/pusher, in order to see what they offered compared to the rest.
Scoop: plastic, aluminum, or steel?
Because of the repetitive nature of shoveling, we recommend going with the lightest material. This means plastic, or more specifically (in most cases), polyethene. Not only are these shovels lighter, but they have the built-in flexibility to withstand sharp impacts. Most of them come equipped with a reinforced edge for added durability and longevity. Cheaper plastic shovels can break in extreme cold, but more reputable models hold up better. I’ve personally had a True Temper poly shovel for the past six New England winters and it is only now starting to show a few little cracks at the corners.
Metal shovels offer durability, but with that comes weight. After 100 scoops and tosses, that added heaviness is going to add up to wear and tear on your arms and back. Also, as the front edge of a metal shovel becomes worn and dented, it can easily scratch decking and stonework (much like a metal wear strip, as I’m about to point out).
The wear strip
The wear strip is the reinforced leading edge found on most poly shovels. The purpose is to protect the edge and create a stronger blade for busting up ice or chipping into semi-frozen, compacted snow, such as the pile that the town plow leaves blocking the end of the driveway. These strips are either nylon or metal.
Nylon wear strips are the best option for a few reasons. They protect the edge of the poly scoop against nicks, dings and cracking, and at the same time, they reinforce it so the shovel is strong enough to chop into dense, compacted snow. Nylon strips are also rounded over at the edge, so the shovel can easily slide over uneven surfaces without getting jammed up. Lastly, shovels with nylon strips can be used on decks and stone walkways with minimal fear of damaging the surface.
There is no doubt that metal wear strips are the best at breaking ice, but they come with some major drawbacks. As Saffron explained to me, they can easily scratch wood decks, brick walkways and bluestone patios. I called Horgan Enterprises, a landscaping/snow removal company located in Boston, MA, and they told me that they steer clear of metal wear strips for just that reason.
During our testing, I used a shovel with a metal wear strip to clear off a mahogany deck, and despite being extremely careful, I still managed to scratch the decking. I also noticed that as the metal wear strip got some use, it became more abrasive as the edge developed dents and burrs.
While it’s a risky situation using any shovel to clear 15 inches of snow from the hood of your car, one with a metal wear strip is going to show zero mercy if it comes anywhere near your nice paint job. A nylon strip will probably still leave a scuff, but the damage will be far less severe than with a metal one.
Metal strips are also extremely sharp and rigid, so they catch on virtually everything. When our testing crew shoveled off a barely uneven brick patio and walkway it was a disaster. Each time someone went for a scoop, the front edge of the shovel caught and jammed to an abrupt stop, jarring the arms of the shoveler. Even on a paved driveway there were problems with the blade hitching on little bits of asphalt or snagging on the slightly raised blobs of blacktop patch.
We’re not the only ones to notice this. According to the second edition of Snow Removal Ergonomics, published by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, Inc, when this catching occurs, “the shoulders, neck and back are jarred from the unexpected abrupt stop. This can lead to an injury if you are working on these types of surfaces. Also the blade often catches and many users will bend over awkwardly to stop the blade from grabbing. This is why [metal wear strips] should be avoided.” Not a single one of our four testers liked the metal wear strips.
A third option is to not have any wear strip at all. This creates a nice sharp shovel blade with flexibility to handle uneven surfaces, but the trade-off is durability. The naked and exposed poly blade doesn’t stand a chance against gravel, rocks, asphalt or concrete. After only a couple uses, the edge can become rounded and heavily dented.
Shovels come in a variety of widths. An 18- to 20-inch wide shovel is the sweet spot between being too large for some people and too small to be effective for mass clearing.
Ergonomics, part 1: hand positioning
With a secondary handle, you’re theoretically changing your shoveling body from a third-class lever to a first-class lever, which requires less effort to lift a load. Traditionally, a shovel is a third-class lever, which means that the lifting force (the hand on the middle of the shaft) is between the fulcrum (the hand at the end of the shaft) and the weight (the heavy, wet snow). By re-orienting and raising the secondary handle, this changes. Now, the lifting force is the rear hand and the fulcrum is the middle hand, located between the lift and the weight. See here for a visual representation of the different levers.
So how does this translate to shoveling? A 1993 study carried out by the University of Miami in conjunction with NASA compared a standard straight-shaft shovel (a regular shovel, not a snow shovel) to one equipped with a secondary D-grip handle, located on the shaft. The study found that the additional handle provided a “significant reduction in [muscle activity] of the lumbar paraspinal muscles and a consistent reduction in perceived exertion ratings.” So basically, it not only caused less aggravation to the back, but the test subjects felt the difference and could work longer under less strain.1
Another study, an Ohio State University thesis paper by Kelly McAuley, also tested out secondary handles and discovered that they “significantly reduce twisting moment, twist angle, and flexion angle [of the back] during the shoveling task” and that they “have been shown to decrease some factors associated with low back pain while shoveling.”2
Our own testing confirmed that the secondary handle significantly relieves the amount of back strain, but the experience is not as black and white as “third-class lever to first-class lever.” What our testers felt was a more even distribution of the workload between the two arms. There was still plenty of lifting with the lead hand, but the added handle let the rear hand take quite a bit of the labor load.
Ergonomics, part 2: shape of the shaft
The design of the shaft also plays a role in the amount of back strain administered by a snow shovel. In addition to the plain old straight shaft, two other ergonomic designs are available: bent shaft and curved shaft. In both instances, the portion of the shaft that is typically gripped is higher off the ground, allowing you to stand straighter while scooping snow (but offering little in the way of mechanical advantage like the secondary handles do). At least two studies have revealed a downside to these designs. Because you’re standing straighter while scooping, you have to raise your arms higher in order to toss the snow. This results in less back strain, but more wear and tear on the arms (specifically the left, or leading, arm).3
Curved-shaft shovels rely on the same principle–allowing a straighter back while shoveling–but they eliminate some of the peripheral problems of their bent-shaft cousins. As Saffron pointed out to me, by removing the drastic angle of the shaft, the shoveler now has far more flexibility with hand placement and can “choke up” at the base of the scoop for a heavy load. The curved shaft also helps with managing a heavy scoop of snow. The scoop of a bent-shaft shovel basically pendulums at the bend in the shaft, resulting in more effort needed to stabilize the shovel while tossing.
In summary, the research indicates that the best shovel for your body is one that has a secondary handle raised above the shaft. This allows you to stand straighter and it converts you into a first-class lever, resulting in less exertion and more efficient shoveling. The shovel shaft should be curved for better shoveling posture and also full range of hand placement.
Wrapping it up
If you’re looking for a reliable, durable shovel that won’t devastate your back, we recommend the True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover with the Stout Backsaver Handle added on. It’s a one-two punch that combines fantastic ergonomics with a durable shovel. If you already have a shovel that you’re happy with, then we still think you should get a Backsaver. Because it actually changes how your body shovels, your back will thank you for years to come.
Snow shovel–related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US EDs, 1990 to 2006, American Journal of Emergency Medicine, March 26th, 2010,Ergonomics comes first because shoveling snow is brutal on your body. A study published in 2011 by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine (the result of 17 years of research), concluded that there is an average of 11,500 injuries and emergencies each year in the U.S. due to snow shoveling. Many of these (34%) have to do with the lower back, and the majority of them (54%) fall under the category of acute musculoskeletal exertion, i.e. throwing out your back. As such, finding a shovel that reduces body strain, particularly on your back, is extremely important.
Snow Removal Ergonomics, 2nd Edition, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc.Consider this fact, presented by the Ontario Occupational Health Clinic: “if an individual were to clear a 16-foot by 30-foot driveway covered in one foot of wet snow, they would be moving approximately four tons of snow.” Yikes.
Director of Marketing and Product Development, Interview,
The World's Best Snow Shovel, DIY Life, December 29th, 2010,Marked by their large scoops and short handles, grain shovels are popular among the burly strongman crowd. This article, written by Mark Clement, tool expert and host of the MyFixItUpLife radio show, offers the best summary of their advantages (durability, massive scoop). Because they can shovel snow one minute and be used as a stand-up dust pan the next, they’re popular on construction sites.
A Comparative Study of Two Shovel Designs , Applied Ergonomics , 1933,So how does this translate to shoveling? A 1993 study carried out by the University of Miami in conjunction with NASA compared a standard straight shaft shovel (a regular shovel, not a snow shovel) to one equipped with a secondary D-grip handle, located on the shaft. The study found that the additional handle provided a “significant reduction in [muscle activity] of the lumbar paraspinal muscles and a consistent reduction in perceived exertion ratings.” So basically, it not only caused less aggravation to the back, but the test subjects felt the difference and could work longer under less strain.
Ergonomic Evaluation of Two Alternative Handles for Shovels and Rakes Designed to Prevent Low Back Pain , Thesis,Another study, an Ohio State University thesis paper, by Kelly McAuley, also tested out secondary handles and discovered that they “significantly reduce twisting moment, twist angle, and flexion angle [of the back] during the shoveling task” and that they “have been shown to decrease some factors associated with low back pain while shoveling.”
EMG Comparison of Two Types of Snow Shovels , School of Human Kinetics, Department of Medical Engineering, University of Ottawa,A Canadian study compared a bent shaft design to a standard straight shaft shovel and actually found that “although it was expected that the activity of the back musculature would be reduced with the ergonomic shovel there was no significant change in the erector spinae EMGs.” Interestingly enough, what they did discover was that the straight shaft shovel worked the thigh muscles, but relieved the arms and the bent shaft shovel worked the arms, but relieved the thighs.
Kinematic Evaluation of Two Snow-Shovel Designs, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics , June 2002,Another study did a similar test pitting a bent shaft snow shovel against a straight shaft. Appearing in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting and conducted by the Department of Industrial Engineering, University at Buffalo, it confirmed the bent shaft’s ability to wear the arms out. The authors found that “use of a bent-handled shovel tended to result in higher discomfort levels for the left arm.” But unlike the first study, this one found that overall, the bent-handled shovel provided a reduction in motion and bending of the back, which is “not surprising as one’s lower hand was expected to be higher from the ground during the scooping activity due to the design of the shaft.” But as they found out, the only problem is that the shoveler has to compensate for this with added arm exertion.