One of the most stressful experiences in a persons life, moving house is right up there with bereavement and divorce. My property lawyer told me this recently, so I am speaking from fresh experience! Our recent house move has prompted me to compile a list of advice for imminent house movers to hopefully reduce the stress and the risk of back pain.....
Leading up to exchange and completion dates there is the mammoth task of packing your worldly belongings into boxes, bags and cases (unless you hire the removals company to do this for you. If so, I would high tail it to the spa and let them get on with it!) If however, like me, you insist on doing this yourself, you will be at risk of bending and leaning over boxes, lifting heavy items and reaching and twisting....all postures which can put abnormal tensile load on the structures of the back. Here are a few pointers in the right direction....
1. Warm up before you do anything! A few easy arm swings, back and side stretches can be sufficient to get the blood circulating though the tissues which will minimise the chances of you pulling your back.
2. Try to engage your core muscles during any lifting activity, to protect your back. (Draw your belly button back towards your spine).
3. Do your best to limit the time you`re in one position i.e. knelt on the floor leaning over a box packing items or wrapping fragile pieces. Yes, there`s a job to be done, but your lower back muscles will be stiff and sore when you try to move again.
4. When lifting weight or loading onto a vehicle, face the direction in which you want to carry the weight, to avoid twisting, keep the legs hip width apart and the knees softly bent.
5. Keep the load that you`re carrying as close to you as possible.
6. Avoid bending from the waist, which increases the stress on the lower back. Never keep knees straight as this will lead to over-stretching and will cause damage to the ligaments and muscles in the lower back.
7. Always avoid lifting whilst twisting at the waist.
All of the above may seem straightforward and nothing new but it is amazing how often I see a patient who has fallen into the trap of not warming up and then bending and twisting to lift an often heavy object. This is especially true when there is a deadline involved, which there almost always is during a house move.
So my last bit of advice is to allow lots of time. I was told that whatever time I estimated the big pack-up to take, it would take double or three times that. They were correct!
Chiropractic is great to alleviate aches and pains in the back and neck if it all goes wrong. I made sure I received several chiropractic treatments during my move to ensure correct skeletal alignment, to reduce muscular tension and to help me get some proper sleep.
Talking about sleep, watch out for my next blog post which will be describing how important sleep is and why!
Thank you for reading.