Are Ergonomic Shovels Better Than A Regular Shovel?

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Yes, ergonomic design when creating shovels has come about as manufacturers are developing ways to reduce stress on your arms, feet, and back while digging. The term “ergonomics” refers to tools that help to increase comfort. 

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How to Identify an Ergonomic Shovel

Identifying an ergonomic shovel is easy as the shovel’s scoop and shape may look different from the traditional shovel. Most of us will recognize ergonomic snow shovels like the one at the top of this article as they are relatively common. Or, you will notice that the shovel has a curved handle and a D or T-shaped grip.

 The design of ergonomic shovels is to reduce muscle fatigue when using a shovel for extended periods.

Unlike standard shovels, ergonomic shovels have curved handles which conform to your hand’s natural contour allowing you to use the weight of your body instead of relying on the arm and back muscular strength alone. Generally, ergonomic handles are made out of composite materials that are stronger than steel and are lighter in weight.

The more lightweight the handle is this will help to cut down on repetitive stress injuries caused by heavy-duty digging tasks.

What Types Of Ergonomic Shovels Are Available?

There are different variations that you will find when looking for an ergonomic shovel, but in general, what you will find are the four types below:

1. Ergonomic straight handle shovels

The straight handle will keep your wrist in a neutral position without straining or bending it unnaturally.

2. Shovels that are ergonomically designed for left-handed users.

If the shovel has a D or T handle, it can be utilized efficiently by either a right-handed or left-handed user.

So, the ergonomic right-handed shovel is also available in an ergonomic version made especially for left-handed people.  

 3. Ergonomically curved shaft. 

These shovels are designed to increase force during the use of the shovel.

The shaft, handle, and blade curvature are all designed to help you reduce stress on the body while maintaining your posture and balance.

The payoff is that the energy you utilize to push the shovel into the substrate is focused on the push, not on your balance, posture, or body pain which allows the push to be more purposeful and the outcome more efficient.

4. Ergonomically designed shovels with varying types of strapping/additional handles.

Strapping or additional handles allow you to adjust the shovel to your body rather than you adjusting to the shovel and hurting yourself.

When to Use an Ergonomic Shovel?
The best use of an ergonomic shovel is when you want to reduce back, arm, and wrist fatigue. An ergonomic shovel will reduce this force during use.

Beyond the benefits of less back and arm pain and decreased wrist fatigue, an ergonomic shovel will give you a better posture while using the shovel, which means you will be able to dig longer to get your task completed.

An ergonomic shovel also decreases the amount of force needed to dig with a traditional round-point spade shovel. Less pressure on your body means this will help you perform repetitive tasks efficiently without developing symptoms of overuse injury like tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

In addition, ergonomic shovels provide increased mobility and strength when working with heavy soil types rather than relying on your posture and force to dig into tough soil.

Matching Your Body With the Best Ergonomic Shovel

There is no one ergonomic shovel that meets the needs of every user. Instead, an ergonomic shovel will be most effective when designed to meet your specific tasks, especially digging tasks like planting flower beds or digging up potatoes. 

 A quick test before purchasing an ergonomic shovel can help you determine if the ergonomic design fits with the type of work you do with a shovel:

  • Grab your old standard shovel and hold it out in front of you vertically at arm’s length with one end resting on the ground.
  • Then, maintaining that position, move the shovel closer to your body until it is directly under your armpit vertically. 
  • Is the shovel handle tip so high that it is pushing up your armpit? Is the shovel’s handle tip well below your armpit? Or is the shovel’s handle tip directly under your armpit?

When purchasing an ergonomic shovel, your goal is to buy the shovel where the shovel’s handle tip is directly under your armpit. This is the best match for you and your body.

Click on our information guide Choosing the Best Shovel For You to learn more about the parts of a shovel and how to choose the best shovel for you, or read our guide on the Best Snow Shovel for Women.

Why Are Ergonomic Shovels Better?

  • Reason 1 – Back Pain Prevention
  • Reason 2 – Reduces Strain on Hands & Knees
  • Reason 3 – Increases Efficiency
  • Reason 4 – Better Balance & Posture
  • Reason 5 – Reduce Disability Risk Factors Later in Life

Bending over all day puts you at risk of experiencing serious health concerns like strain or sprain injuries and lower back pain. For instance, an ergonomic garden spade is superior to a standard round point spade because of its curved neck and rounded tip. In addition, it includes design features such as the D handle that can help reduce muscle stress, back pain, and foot pain associated with using traditional shovels for digging and moving material.

Utilizing an ergonomic shovel will help you with your tasks today and save your back so you can enjoy all your activities throughout life.

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