With school holidays having started for most this week, families across the country are off on their big summer getaway abroad or on home turf. Either way, it can be hard to stay healthy when on holiday as it’s often seen as a time of indulgence, but have you ever considered the impact a holiday can have on your back health?
Here are a few helpful tips to help make sure your break isn’t ruined by pain:
Pack for success!
• Choose suitcases wisely, buying the lightest wheeled case possible. Even hard cases can weigh a lot empty!
• If possible, take two suitcases to distribute evenly weight.
- Soft bags should have long shoulder straps, enabling wear across the body to distribute weight.
- Many wheeled bags encourage you to twist the upper body/back while pulling. Push the case ahead of you instead.
• Tiredness increases chances of injury, so ensure sufficient sleep prior to travelling and avoid rushing.
• Drink plenty of water during the flight and avoid alcohol which can cause dehydration and aggravate muscle pain.
• While restricted to your seat do shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles, and get up and move around.
Arriving at the airport
- Avoid travellators and walking through the terminal to get joints moving quickly.
• Mark your bags, to avoid mistakenly lifting other people’s heavy cases off the carousel.
• Unless your cases don’t have wheels, don’t use airport trolleys, which can jerk and pull on your back.
- When lifting cases into your car, minimise twisting your body and activate abdominal muscles by pulling in the navel.
Driving to your destination?
- Poor driving posture causes or aggravates back problems. Whether in your own car or a hire car, ensure the seat position is slightly backwards and feels natural, with elbows at a comfortable, relaxed angle. Raise the seat so your hips are above your knees.
- Stop and stretch at least every two hours.
- While stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat: try the exercises mentioned above.
When you arrive
- If your bed is too hard, ask hotel staff for a spare duvet/blanket to put on the mattress. It is easier to soften a hard bed than make a soft bed harder. If it is too soft, try turning the mattress over.
- Do the pillows allow your head to stay in alignment with the rest of your body and mould to your head and neck shape? Ask to change pillows if unhappy. Ideally take your normal pillow with you by using compacting vacuum bags.
- Avoid lying on your tummy with your back and neck arched back when reading; put reading matter on the floor and view it over the edge of the sun bed.
- Rolled up towels make good lumbar or neck support.
- If exercising, ensure you have a full induction to the hotel gym.
Do you suffer?
If anxiety, insomnia, IBS, or flying phobias affect you, consider hypnotherapy. This may reduce the need for medical intervention, making your whole holiday experience more pleasurable.