Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The potter's body

In July 2003, I took a introductory pottery workshop at the Parks and Rec in Albemarle NC with Syd Luck, a now legendary potter in Seagrove, NC. I was smitten. I signed up immediately for pottery classes in Charlotte at Clayworks and didn't look up from my clay until last year.

Today, while meditating in my acupuncturist's quiet room with needles stuck all in my back it occurred to me what a toll clay has taken on my body. After only three treatments, my flexibility is slowly coming back and the aches and pains are subsiding.

Let's just take a look at what a potter does to his/her body..... we will use me as an example but I'm sure most potters will be nodding their heads.

  • lifting 50+ lb. boxes of clay (I had to drop it down to the 25lb. bags due to lower back pain)
  • lifting full 5 galling buckets of glaze, water, slip, etc.....
  • moving heavy kiln shelves
  • crawling in kilns
  • building kilns
  • lifting heavy boxes of pottery for shows
  • lifting show fixtures and setting up booths
  • climbing ladders
  • bending over work tables for long periods
  • sitting tensely at a potter's wheel for way too many hours
  • trying to wedge hard clay
  • trying to throw hard clay
  • wedging/throwing large amounts of clay
  • sitting all tensed up at boring/slow festivals, shows, etc

I'm sure I could add a lot more to this list, but I'm tired now just reading back over this! As all of the knotted muscles and misaligned spinal pieces get loosened up and put back into place, I am realizing just how bad my body has gotten in the past ten years. I gained 20 pounds, lost most of that last year and have managed to keep it to within a few pounds. I have lower back pain, wrist pain, elbow and forearm pain, neck pain, shoulder pain. I would just about betcha its from pottery.....

My flexibility is coming back in my shoulders thanks to a good chiropractor and today I went and joined a fitness center a couple of miles from my house. I used to work out three times a week, rock climb, white water paddle, hike, backpack, mountain bike..... then I found clay...... and now here I am. Time to get back to the workouts. I'm really tired of my body feeling so creaky and old. I used to be pretty damn fit!

Gerry recently treated me to mini visit at a spa nearby and I remembered how much I really dig that whole spa experience. I like the smell of aromatherapy, the smell of the sauna and the jacuzzi, the pampering of your body and soul, the lemon and cucumber water, the herbal tea, the white robe and slippers. I dig all of that :)   and it put me in touch with the aches in my body and the very strong desire to make them all go away. It's all about me right now! I am hellhound to get this body back in shape. The women in my family live into their 90's, heck my mom doesn't even have a clue she is old yet and she is 85 ha ha! I'm not interested in carrying this pain with me into my 90's!

So here I go into fitness mode. I went shopping today and got some really cute workout clothes, I may have lost muscle tone, but I still look ok in a pair of black workout capris and a tank :) just gotta keep saying to myself:

I'm Awesome!


Michèle Hastings said...

Good for you! Perhaps you will inspire me.

Laurie said...

I consider myself fairly strong, but I sure can't lift a full 5 gal. bucket or 50# of anything. I can surely see how pottery is tough on a body. Good for you for listening to your body and what it needs.

Dennis Allen said...

You are awesome and don't forget it.I don't know that I can blame all my aches and pains on pottery but it aggravates a lot of them.Nobody told me that after 65 years of wear and tear you can end up wore out and tore up.

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Michele: I know you have had some back troubles too. As much as you work, it's no wonder! I think you deserve a little spa break yourself!
Laurie: making soap is sure a lot better for the body than lifting glaze buckets! you chose well :)
Dennis: that's what I am, wore out and tore up! Time for a change :)

Lori Buff said...

I’ve often said “I don’t need a gym membership, I’m a potter, it’s quite a workout.” Still, we have to take care of our bodies (hence the hand stretchers video I made) and remember that our body is our most valuable tool.
Good for you in taking the time and effort to get back into better shape.