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Ergonomic Shovel features a rotating middle handle

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September 11, 2013

Stephen Walden with his Ergonomic Shovel

Stephen Walden with his Ergonomic Shovel

When it comes to defining what technology is, you may have heard people say "Heck, even the shovel is an example of technology." That may be true, but it's also an example of technology that has hasn't changed much in a long time. California-based entrepreneur Stephen Walden, however, wants to change that. After getting stiff and sore using a conventional shovel, he set about designing an alternative. The result is his Ergonomic Shovel, that features a rotating second handle in the middle of the shaft.

There are already plenty of ergonomic shovels that have an additional handle part way down, allowing for a second firm and easy point of contact. With most of those shovels, the handle is clamped onto the shaft and is set at a fixed angle.

By contrast, Walden's shovel has a ring-shaped structure in the middle of its reinforced fiberglass shaft, that contains an integrated composite handle that can be rotated 360 degrees. The idea is that users can set the angle to best suit themselves and the particular job, by turning the handle in the direction that they will be pitching the dirt, snow, cow poop, or what have you. Once the angle is set, it can be temporarily locked in.

According to Stephen and his development team, "these shovels improve posture to reduce back strain, they relieve wrist pain by taking the wrist out of a pronated position, and they minimize shoulder injury by making sure lifting tasks are two-handed and in front of the body, which evenly distributes the loads across the shoulders and chest."

Most if not all of these claims can also be applied to more traditional ergonomic shovels, although Walden's model does have another interesting feature – a U-shaped foothold. This allows users to apply foot pressure directly to the middle of the shovel head, instead of off to one side where their foot could slip off.

Stephen is currently raising production funds for his shovel, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$79 will get you one (your choice of a spade, flat head or snow shovel), when and if the funding goal is met.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Sources: Bosse Tools, Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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11 Comments

Ha, how long is a two-peice shaft going to last. Is he saying he doesn't get 'stiff and sore' after a lot of shovelling with this? I thought the bending lifting and twisting caused the grief.

Ozuzi
11th September, 2013 @ 04:58 pm PDT

Missing the obvious ergonomic of adjustability for people's different heights.

Facebook User
11th September, 2013 @ 05:01 pm PDT

this is just plain dumb.

Derek Howe
11th September, 2013 @ 07:51 pm PDT

@Sam Sams

I agree.

EDDO
11th September, 2013 @ 08:08 pm PDT

Looks like they never really used a shovel for any serious work.

Middle handle is not really working. You need to be able to slide up and down tje sjaft to move dirt around.

You do not want to stand on the shovel in the middle because your feet are not in the middle either.

How do you want to replace a broken shaft ... and yes they break!

You don't want a shovel that is welded together. It should be one metal piece or problem are already preprogrammed.

I am sure that is a step back compared to a well forged shovel with well made wood shaft.

Jarunik
12th September, 2013 @ 06:35 am PDT

They might want to check into scythes, which have been engineered with this sort of idea for hundreds of years

Victor Engel
12th September, 2013 @ 09:19 am PDT

Man. I was a builder's labourer when I was young and consider myself an expert shoveler, (and not an expert at much else!)

The trick is to always swing around your body, ie position yourself so the back of your front shoulder angles towards where you are dumping or throwing. And ideal front hand position will change; if you are scooping from a big pile of sand into a barrow, bring the barrow close, take big scoops with the front hand closer to the blade, and dump it in. If shoveling off the ground and onto a truck, take smaller scoops, with the front hand a bit further back, swing and throw it up.

You are using the chest muscles and (with left hand forward with the palm under the handle) keeping your left elbow close to your ribs, and the naturally supinated left hand makes this easier.

ie... IMHO this front grip may not be ideally positioned for all situations and all people.

Marke
12th September, 2013 @ 05:44 pm PDT

It's not called back breaking labor for no reason

I want him to dig in hard soil with roots and pebbles in it next to a large tree. And did you notice the mounting of the blade to the shaft. Normally a shaft runs under the blade to support it. I don't want to set force on this one

He, it's not April 4th is it?

Vincent Bevort
13th September, 2013 @ 12:50 am PDT

Wow, you guys are all haters. There have been improvements to such simple things as shovels. I have one of those snow shovels with the offset shaft (almost S-shaped shaft) where the place you grab is higher up, but the angle of the shovel remains low and it's MUCH easier on my back.

This isn't all about the back. It's very possible to believe that with a shorter shovel, by grabbing at a different angle, your hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder will all be put into a better position - which will cascade through each extremity and to the back -- and prevent repetitive motion injuries by setting up the smaller muscles and tendons so they aren't twisting or rubbing against areas they weren't designed to handle.

Even while playing golf, it's well known that a correct grip with the 2 middle fingers of the right hand can affect how you bring your arms back in the swing. The tension on those two fingers sets up the smaller muscles under the forearm to work together with other muscles to make the larger backswing move easier and more efficient.

Firehawk70
13th September, 2013 @ 12:05 pm PDT

If you use a shovel on soil, you will reveal an amazing thing... a hole. As you continue to use the shovel to deepen the hole, you soon find yourself removing dirt that's further and further below grade. Having fixed hand holds on a shovel would mean that you'll soon be digging with this thing while couching over your hole on your knees. This problem is avoided by having a long, simple wood handle on a shovel.

Satweavers
13th September, 2013 @ 05:08 pm PDT

My father was a contractor and did lot of remodels and additions. So as a teenager I dug a lot of foundations and other holes needed in construction. There is a lot of technique in using a shovel all day without injuring yourself. One of the most important is not to overload your shovel. Certain soils and materials hold together well and pick up easily, leading people to take large chunks which will in short order strain your body. small loads allow you to shovel quicker, throw more accurately and move same amount of material/time. to that end my favorite shovel has become the narrower trencher shovel. works better on hard ground as well since your weight is concentrated on smaller area. a second square shovel is nice for making clean edges and bottoms afterwards.

telocity
27th September, 2013 @ 04:26 pm PDT
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