Manual Labor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Log in

Search on Site

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Recent Posts

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor


Preferred Member
May 9, 2016
So, after being unemployed for several months I'm finally relieved to be in a new job that I enjoy. While I unfortunately don't have as much time to spend on the forum it does give me opportunities to smoke my pipe. I'm on the road quite a bit and when I'm not driving my job is now very physical. I'm constantly lifting items, working outside, pulling, climbing things and in general just being extremely active. I thought I was in good physical health - I'm a runner and a swimmer - but my body is killing me. My shoulders and back are stiff and sore and my body aches to the point that I hate to move once I get home. So, I must be using muscles that I wasn't engaging before. My question is for those of you that were or are in jobs that require a good deal of manual labor - does your body adjust? Does anyone have any tips on what I can do to speed recovery or help my poor aching shoulders? I know it's a pipe forum but I figured a few of you might have some advice.



Preferred Member
Oct 20, 2014
In short, yes you will get used to it. At different points I've picked up jobs seasonally to supplement my income, or lack of, and sometimes they are physical in their scope/ Always there is a break in period, but I usually grow accustomed to the demands. Im in my mid thirties, YMMV depending on your age.



Preferred Member
May 9, 2016
Thanks texmex. That's good to hear. I'm about three weeks in now - early 30s.



Preferred Member
Jan 14, 2012
Run a hot bath and pour a whole bottle of 91% Alcohol in it and soak, the hot water and alcohol evaporating feels like heaven.



Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2013
I think its about 2 months in I start to feel 'normal' on a job using different muscles. (mid 30s)



Preferred Member
Apr 24, 2015
Shoulders are just sore muscles, it's your back you have to look out for. Injure that an well let's just say not good. The old saying is lift with your legs not your back. OH! an Mineral Ice Ointment is a gift from the gods. Good Luck.



Preferred Member
Jul 31, 2010
Bethlehem, Pa.
My MG has a manual transmission. That's as much manual labor as I do these days.

Glad to hear that you found something you enjoy. I'm sure your body will respond. Good luck and much success.



Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2015
You'll get used to it, unless you have an injury you keep aggravating, like a bum knee or a bad back. That shit, you're just stuck with. Remember that stretching is your friend, even on your off time when you really don't want to. That, and Icy Hot or Tiger Balm. Congrats on landing a new job, BTW!



Preferred Member
Jun 5, 2015
Mid 40s. In a situation like that I try to anticipate which muscles I will use for my next move and I try to involve other muscle group to help out. Takes 2-3 weeks to get to the automatic movement. Also correct breathing is very important. I try to correspond my movements to my breathing with 4-4-4 routine. Inhave on count of 4, hold my breath on count of 4 and exhale on count of 4



Preferred Member
Apr 11, 2015
I remember when I began framing a couple years ago I was hurting for a good month or so, but it got better.
A few things I did, which I found helpful was learn some stretching exercises, especially for my back, and try to at least do some minor stretching at work. Then there was the stint were I went to the gym a few times a week to do low impact stuff and flexibility exercises, which helped while it lasted.
And to echo what's been said, lift properly and don't get too complacent about ladders and stuff. A journeyman I know shattered his ankle after falling 5 or 6 feet from a ladder, because he set it up half assed.



Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
I have a chiropractor, a heat pad, ice packs, and a woman with a wonderful massaging touch. For when I have to work outdoors, which is only seasonal. I hope you adjust well. Watch that back, and remember, use your legs, use your legs, use your legs!



Preferred Member
Jan 17, 2010
woodlands tx
I used to come home and lay flat on the floor for about thirty minutes , seemed to help . Always start your day with a banana those hard working muscles need that potassium . Water is your friend ,save those sugar colored drinks for your lunch or dilute them with water .And last but what I feel is the most important is a good pair of work shoes or boots . or'danner%20boots'



Preferred Member
Mar 29, 2016
I feel for you jacks6. After I got laid off from an office job years ago, I did construction for a few months while looking for work. Made me realize I wasn't as young or in as good of shape as I thought. as Texmex said, your body will adapt.



Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2015
@Jack6 - I got you covered man. I do physical labor for a living now cause I like it, no thinking required. I became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1993 and have been a holistic guinea pig for almost thirty years. I've had multiple fractures from blunt force trauma, TBI, torn ACL, torn Meniscus, degenerative lumbar condition and damn near completely ripped my Achilles tendon from the bone a couple months ago. I only missed a day of work to go to the podiatrist and they had never seen a tendon that large before. They were bringing in people to gawk at it. I was told they do surgery on tendons with 1/8th the damage I had. If MY treatments continue to work, I won't need surgery.
Keep a positive attitude. Make sure you eat right. Steak is your friend as it contains essential amino acids you need to rebuild muscle and strengthen bone. Plenty of green veggies. As has been said, lift with your legs and not your back, and breathing is definitely important. Naproxin with food is a great OTC anti-inflammatory as long as you don't take any blood thinners.
If you have someone to give you back rubs then do the following:

1. Once or twice a week get a light/gentle back and shoulder rubdown with real Apple Cider Vinegar. Yeah it sounds weird, but it will relax strained or sore muscles and tendons and improve circulation to help clear out damaged cells. It also breaks down deposits which don't belong there. You can use it on any sore muscles and tendons and it only needs to stay on a half hour or so, after which, soap it off by taking a nice hot shower. Your skin will be soft as a baby's bottom.

2. Two to three times a week do the same with Peanut Oil, expeller pressed Castor Oil (You want FOOD GRADE from a health food store not those little blue bottles)or a shaken not stirred 50/50 mix of the two. I recommend the straight castor oil, but you can alternate between them too. Don't drink the oils either, you'll live to regret it. Be somewhat generous in the amounts of all of the above. The peanut oil has vitamin E which will help with building and repairing muscle. The castor oil repairs damaged tissue and even speeds healing of bone fractures, cuts, bruises and sprains. Again, soaping off in a nice hot shower after leaving the oils on as long as you can tolerate will do wonders. Castor oil stains clothing so be careful not to get it on your good sheets.
Don't do both treatments on the same day. Alternate them. Apply heat to the castor oil treatment if you can as it will make it more effective. Saran wrap, towel, then heating pad on high. If you have a thin wool or cotton towel to dedicate to the castor oil, then you don't need the plastic wrap.
Considering the injuries I have listed above, I shouldn't be able to carry around 80 pound bags of cement and be on my feet all day pulling weeds and moving gigantic tropical plants. But I can and do with minimal discomfort. I'll be 47 in January. Good luck!



Jan 22, 2016
I'm a writer and a student, so I'm perfectly happy to sit at my desk for days at a time. However, my field of study is archaeology, so occasionally I have to venture outside for surveys or excavations, at which point I spend hours either walking or crawling around, and digging incessantly... I love it, but it kills me, so I sympathise completely!
*Disclaimer: I actually do keep fairly fit as I play multiple sports and walk most places, I suppose I just wanted to accentuate the difference in writing/studying and archaeological field work!



Preferred Member
May 5, 2009
My question is for those of you that were or are in jobs that require a good deal of manual labor - does your body adjust? Does anyone have any tips on what I can do to speed recovery or help my poor aching shoulders? I know it's a pipe forum but I figured a few of you might have some advice.
Pain becomes part of life. I been an operator in very rough environments for my whole life the only thing I recommend is heated seats in you car help and prescription pain pills will help with getting your socks on in the mornings. 8O
However, my field of study is archaeology, so occasionally I have to venture outside for surveys or excavations,
I've had a few arc survey people working around us and have enjoyed visiting with them.



Staff member
Jul 28, 2013
Yes you get used to it for a bit, but then you will still have bad days unfortunately



Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
Stretch and plenty of protein. Other than that, yes, you will get used to it. It's as you suspected, you're just using muscles you weren't before. And Icy Hot. Icy Hot can be your best friend. haha Congrats on the new job, and hang in there.



Preferred Member
May 6, 2016
West Texas
Work thru the pain and eventuly your body will adjust, I wake up stiff/sore but had to train myself not to think about it, just get up and walk it out and by time im at the coffee pot Im ok, and Aleive on a regular basis