Helpful tips for avoiding back pain on holiday

We all look forward to going on holiday, often we've had it planned for months. The last thing you want is for back pain to ruin it for you. We all try hard to avoid doing anything to aggravate existing injuries, but when you're out of your usual routine – i.e. travelling, sleeping in a different bed and sitting for long periods – back pain can play havoc for you. To help you plan ahead, have a read of these hints and tips and make sure your holiday is happy and healthy!

Before You Go:
• Suitcase selection - buy the lightest case possible and ensure that it has wheels; hard cases can sometimes weigh a lot before you even start to fill them with travel essentials.
• Two cases are better than one - you can distribute the weight more easily and equally.
• Push your case, don't pull! Pulling cases makes the upper body and back twist to one side. If possible, push the case in front of you.
• Get a good night's sleep. Travelling when tired increases your chances of injury, ensure you sleep well the night before a long journey and avoid rushing around.

• Lots of back problems are caused or aggravated by poor driving posture. Ensure the seat position is slightly backwards so that it feels natural and that your elbows are at a comfortable and relaxed angle if using a hire car.
• Relax at the wheel, as this reduces stress on the spine.
• Plan regular breaks - stop and stretch your body at least every two hours.
• If you are stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends and shoulder shrugs – sounds insignificant but it really does help!

On the plane:
• If you're flying, it's best to avoid alcohol during the flight as this can dehydrate you and can exaggerate muscle pain. Drink plenty of water instead.
• Air-exercise - avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles.
• Take the opportunity to get up and stretch your legs whenever you can.

Upon Arrival:
• Get your circulation flowing and joints moving quickly after a flight by walking rather than taking the easy option of a moving walkway.
• Ensure your bag is easily identifiable to avoid lifting other people's heavy cases in error. Remember to bend your hips and knees not your back to lift cases.
• Unless your case does not have wheels of its own, try to avoid airport trolleys. As ones with 'wonky' wheels are common and you could hurt your back trying to correct a wayward trolley.

Whilst away:
• If your bed is too hard when you arrive, ask the hotel staff for a spare duvet or blanket to put between you and the mattress and act as a topper.
• If you're heading to the sun loungers, try not to lie on your front with your back and neck arched back when reading. Try putting your reading material on the floor so you can view it over the edge of the bed and keep your spine straighter.
• If the gym is on your holiday agenda, ensure you have a full induction to the hotel gym equipment if you're not sure how to use it. 

We often see people who have holiday-induced injuries, so plan carefully and don't forget, we're happy to do general check-up style treatments to iron out niggles before you go, or on your return, just ask!
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