Two years ago, my partner and I started renovating the house we had just purchased. We told ourselves that we would try to put in as much work into it on our own as we were physically and skilfully capable. This involved smashing walls, drilling holes, prep-work (and more prep-work), painting and getting used to living within a construction site.
I learnt a lot of things in this time. I learnt the difference between a flat head and Phillips screwdriver, that you can still cook pasta on a barbecue, that smashing walls down is a good stress release, and that a beer after a hard day’s work tastes a lot better when it has been well-deserved. What I also learnt from the days of labouring on the renovations was that my body was getting sore.
After spending a whole day on the weekend sanding the ceiling above my head or lifting bricks onto a wheelbarrow, I realised that my body was not conditioned for this type of work. I found my neck and right shoulder were getting sore from reaching over my head sanding, or my lower back was also getting sore due to the repetitive lifting. I then realised and appreciated two things.
Firstly, I started to really appreciate the work labourers and tradesmen do, day in and day out. Secondly, I realised that this is something I see in the clinic every day. Often people come into the clinic sore because they’ve taken up a new hobby, started a new job or changed something in their normal routine. We have even seen this with the pandemic as it has forced a lot of us to stop. This change of decreasing normal activity levels can be a contributor to a flare up of our aches and pains. Our bodies love consistency. Changing loads or activities on our normal routine can be enough to cause an increase in stiffness, and normal aches and pains.
It is important to know that this is normal, but it is also important to know how to manage it. If your pain is something new and concerning to you, then it is worth having a health professional check it out. But if it is an old niggle that has flared, then it’s important that you have a basket of tools (no pun intended) such as exercises, stretches, heat/ cold etc. that will help. If you’re looking at starting a new exercise or have started and are not sure of how to manage the load or to condition yourself as best you can, then it’s never a bad idea to get some advice.
What I learnt from my renovations: renovations are never-ending, tiresome and in the end, rewarding. I learnt that it’s okay to pace myself and slow things down. In those times when taking it slow wasn’t possible, my stretches, exercise, heat bag and a massage made things feel a lot more comfortable.