Whether through personal choice or by outside influence, there comes a time (or many) in our adult lives when we are responsible for moving our physical being and belongings into a new space. As the snail leaves behind her shell or the snake his skin, moving homes is a symbol of massive transition: both in the metamorphic sense and physical sense.

As I recently experienced, this is a transition you want to be physically prepared to take on.

Last month, my husband and I moved across the country. After eight years of making a comfortable home in California, we packed up our belongings and headed east. As a yoga teacher and movement educator, I couldn’t help but appreciate the many physically challenging movements that I encountered while transitioning homes. However, even in the midst of my appreciation, I noticed that there were some not-so-opportunistic muscles that were bothered during the big move.

I know I’m not the only one who has encountered the aches and pains of moving. Echoing in my mind was the typical complaint that goes something like, “I was moving that box and then… my back suddenly went out!”

The physical reality of packing, cleaning and hauling away your most precious belongings demands so much of your body. Knowing the high-risk zones will help you be prepared for the physical act of your own big moves.

So following are three of the bodily areas that are the most vulnerable during a move, and why.

1. Lower Back Pain and Strain

The most obvious and ominous area of my body that needed preparation was my back. Particularly the lower back. As I squatted, twisted and side-bended while reaching for big bulky cabinets, boxes and bureaus, the condition of my spinal muscles and hip stabilizers were put to the test.

Further research brought me to realize that this is not uncommon: movements that place stress on your lower back, like lifting heavy objects and twisting to lift, often lead to lumbar muscle strains. A muscle strain is when you pull or tear muscle fibers. This happens when a muscle is stretched past its typical range of motion, or forced to suddenly strongly contract.

2. Grip Challenges to the Fingers and Hands

I also noticed how difficult it was for my hands to hold onto awkward shaped dressers and furniture edges. This was a result of not having enough strength in certain grip positions. Sometimes these little movers of the body do a lot more than we think! 

Again, I found that injuries and breakage to the fingers (digits) and hands is one of the most common types of moving injuries. When you suddenly ask your hands to grip and stabilize in ways they aren’t used to, you put them at risk.

3. Very Vulnerable Feet and Toes

Then there were my fatigued feet. Sure there was the occasional stubbed toe because “hey, that box wasn’t supposed to be there!” or the accidental dropping of a book. (Broken toes are a real danger when moving due to dropping things on those exposed phalanges.)

Also, my feet were the foundation to literally every move I made. So after two weeks of day and night packing and preparing, my feet were exhausted. Yes, the soles of my feet felt sore. But to my surprise my toes underwent an unusual amount of gripping — resulting in tired toes and stiff feet.

Empower Your Transition by Training to Move

After a few days of this movement mayhem, I decided to incorporate some out of the box techniques in my fitness conditioning practice. I guess you could say I started training to move. I love a good functional movement practice and since awkward and unconventional movement is part of our human experience, why not practice it?

Plus, making big life transitions is hard enough without aches, pains and possible injuries that come with getting your stuff from here to there. Training to move is one way to bring more ease and personal empowerment to these intense times.

How about you? Making moves soon? If you plan on moving homes, or just rearranging furniture, stay tuned for my next post about how to condition your body for awkward moving positions. I’ll show you how to employ some of your main muscle movers to safely transition from place to place.

Liked this article? Read Preparing for Big Life Change