This week my physio clinic took a call from a reader of the column who wanted to know the answer to this question on doing household tasks:
“Is there anything medical – like stretches, that I can do to prepare for doing tasks such as moving furniture and decorating and the like. It’s often strenuous and I never realise just how strenuous, until I wake up the next day aching.“
– Person asked to remain nameless.
And the answer is this…
“Yes, and no!”
I’ll start with the “Yes”.
See, if you’re ever going to be doing any form of strenuous activity – and things like moving furniture and stripping wall paper or painting walls are included in that, I’d always advise that having your body ready to do the task – by warming up, is a good idea.
Doing anything for a sustained period of time (which I class as more than 20 minutes) requires that muscles are warm before you begin. And I’d say that you’d be better off being “warm”, by doing something like a brisk walk well wrapped up, or jogging on the spot for 7-8 minutes, than you would just stretching all your muscles cold.
If you can get warm and then stretch your shoulder and lower back muscles immediately after, then that’s even better.
But here’s the “no” section and why those next day aches and pains are inevitable for people doing household chores. Which, I suspect, will be in full throttle at this time of the year so it comes as a timely message:
One off events are difficult to pre-pare your body for. Think about doing the gardening after a few months , or even a couple of weeks off – the next day feels pretty horrendous and it’s not because anything has gone wrong per se, it’s just that you’ve used muscles in a way that you haven’t in a while. And so they’ll feel sore.
However, if you kept at the gardening once per week, then those next day aches wouldn’t appear as your body is used to the positions your asking your muscles and joints to get into.
It’s no different from a golfer, a footballer, a runner or any other sports person – even the pro stars – if they have a few weeks without doing there “thing”, then they will feel it when they return to their game.
So to wrap this one up, there is things you can do – like stretching and ensuring your body is warm before you start pushing couches or stripping wall paper, but there’s very little that can be done to stop it completely, unless you’re doing this type of thing week on week. Hope this helps.
Article printed in the Hartlepool Mail, Dec 2015.
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