One thing you never overhear at a cocktail party is, “Boy, I just love moving! Just can’t wait to start packing those boxes!” In fact, for most of us, it’s the exact opposite. Moving falls roughly at the same level as going to the dentist, and maybe even a step below sitting in traffic. While FlatRate movers make the process relatively painless, taking your entire life, shoving it into boxes, dragging it to a new location, and taking everything out of those boxes is rough – especially on the body.
All that lifting, shoving, pushing, and pulling can rival a pro-wrestling match, only without the DayGlo tights. And when you are done, everything hurts for days. But what if all of that pain could be avoided? What if you could strengthen those parts of your body for weeks in advance so that moving would be a breeze?
Let’s look at what muscles we utilize during a move, and how we might get them in better shape…
Yes, everyone wants a six-pack. Besides looking like a Calvin Klein ad, it means your core is strong and can help you to balance and stabilize weight, right? Unfortunately, the rectus abdominous, or the turtle shell, is only one of the many muscles that make up your core. There are also your obliques, the transverse abdominous, and the erector spinae, among others. All of these work together to keep you moving and balanced, and protect your lower back when lifting heavy loads. There are a lot of great exercises to work your core, including forearm plank, woodchoppers, and one-arm side balances, but your best bet is to take a pilates or yoga class. Both can be very core-intensive. Whatever you do, don’t settle for crunches or sit-ups. They only get a fraction of the job done.
Your legs are, by far, the strongest part of your body. It’s also the part that propels you forward when you’re lugging that 80-inch plasma up the stairs. Without hamstring strength, lifting any object off of the ground would be difficult, and without the addition of your quads, moving it somewhere would be impossible. The great news is that there are a lot of ways to increase your leg strength. Squats, lunges, step-ups, and bent-knee deadlifts
are all amazing leg exercises – they mimic things we do while moving. They can each be done effectively with bodyweight, or dumbbells can be added to create more of a challenge. Running stairs or jump-based cardio workouts such as plyometrics are also great ways to work your legs.
Moving can make you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, literally. Anytime you have to heave something over your head, your shoulders are engaged. By strengthening your shoulder muscles, the lifting will become safer and easier. Shoulder muscles can be strengthened with overhead presses, lateral raises, posterior flies, and anterior raises. If you’re not the weight-lifting type, swimming and rowing are also great ways to build up shoulder strength.
Anytime you pull something, you use your biceps. Anytime you push, your triceps. Anytime you move, you will use both until they are numb. Having 13-inch biceps is not necessary when lifting boxes, but some functional strength is more than helpful. Biceps can be worked with curls but also with various back exercises, like pull-ups and rows. Triceps can be worked with dips, extensions, and almost all chest exercises like pushups and presses.
Although they seem resilient, your hands and wrists can take quite a beating throughout a move. Perhaps it is gripping onto a handle too tight to avoid dropping or just the repetitive motion of wrapping breakables in bubble wrap. Whatever the case, strengthening your grip and wrists can only make the process go more smoothly. Set a tennis ball or a racketball by your computer and whenever you’re cruising the Internet, make a point of squeezing it and doing wrist rotations. That’ll get these muscles ready to go in no time and, as a bonus,
it’s a great way to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome.
When you’re moving, you don’t begin packing the night before and you shouldn’t begin training for it then, either. Give your body a few weeks to adjust to the workload, and to gain some actual strength. Who knows, maybe your newfound muscle awareness might make moving kind of fun. Perhaps not cocktail conversation fun, but fun nonetheless.