I have just done something most of us find challenging. I’ve moved house. “House” is not strictly correct – I’ve moved apartments. Even when we want to move, it is still one of those most stressful activities we can undertake. It is emotionally stressful, but also very physically stressful, especially for any of us with musculoskeletal conditions.
In my case, bending is the major issue. When packing there is SO MUCH BENDING. Packing and moving are activities that we can completely outsource, but that is a financial cost not all of us can or want to incur. I certainly didn’t: the moving itself was enough of an expense, packing I needed to handle.
Other life events that can be physically challenging include weddings (our own, or a family member), family holidays, community events we may be involved in organising, school fetes; the list is endless.
If it is a wedding and you are mother or father of either of the happy couple, the lead up is full of additional activities and you want to be in the best shape possible on the day.
Here are my tips for surviving physically when we face a complete disruption to our physical routine that has the potential to cause us pain or a condition flare.
- Plan, start preparations early. Stop what you are doing if pain starts. Build rest periods into your plan.
- Accept help! My daughter and son-in-law helped me pack. A friend helped me unpack at the other end. If you are involved in the organisational stages as well as “on the day” or post-event clean up, make sure you do not say, “Oh, no I can manage”.
- Take annual leave if possible. I took a week.
- DO NOT be tempted to “help” the removalists on the day (if you are moving, otherwise adapt this tip to suit your situation). You organised help for a reason: whether they are paid experts or volunteers, resist the urge to throw yourself into the fray.
- Maintain your daily stretching regime. It can be easy to let such things slip when faced with exciting things going on. Your stretches are even more important now to counteract the pressure you are putting on your body.
- You may also have prescribed remedial exercises to do – maintain those too, for the same reasons.
- Ensure you get adequate sleep.
- Pay attention to your posture. With all the bending I was doing, I was diligent about hinging at the hip to ensure I minimised pressure on my spine.
- Do something appropriate to support your body during this time. For example, I booked a massage the second day after the move to iron out the niggles.
- Eat well, ensure you consume enough protein. Stay hydrated.
- If this is a big social event, I strongly recommend continuing to wear your kyBoot shoes on the day. While you might get away with “pretty” shoes or heels for an hour or so, any longer could well result in pain which could be very unpleasant on the day.
Every person is different, every person’s objectives and capabilities are different. If you are father of the bride, your one burning desire for the day may be to walk your child down the aisle and maybe walking is your personal challenge. Plan ahead, practice, seek advice from your allied health providers well in advance. If necessary, consider adaptations: for example, at the recent royal wedding Prince Charles didn’t walk the full length of the aisle with Meghan.
I have survived my challenge relatively unscathed. Yes, I did resort to Panadol and a heat back on my back the actual day of the move, but I have even impressed myself with how well my body coped. The annual leave has certainly helped, as I am not under pressure to rush. I can work for an hour, rest for an hour, do my stretches, get my exercises done; all without feeling as if I need to hurry or as if I should be somewhere else.
Get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. I took a day off from organising the new place to have that massage and go for a long walk. In my kyBoot shoes, of course!
My main objective, aside from a successful move, was to ensure I did not undo all the good work I have done over the past year. Nor did I want a rheumatoid arthritis flare. I was confident if I made sure I took my physical limitations into account, accepted or asked for help as necessary and took my time, I would be fine. Is my back a little stiff? Yes, a little. I am not in excruciating pain or taking pain medication though. I didn’t expect to come through it without my back grumbling a little.
I have boxes that need lifting to the top shelf in the wardrobes: they are not hurting anyone sitting on the floor and that is where they are staying until someone better able to do it visits! Yes, it is tempting, but I’m NOT doing that to myself! Stick to your rules!
It is easy to submit to temptation: to lift that box, wear heels, skip the stretches. If we do, we pay for it. We already have conditions, we must care for our body.
Website from Robyn Dunphy: limberation.com