Travel tips to avoid holiday back and neck pain

Getting ready for a summer holiday? If you’re about to jet, bus or train away for your summer holiday and are worried about back and neck pain then we have some simple tips to help you avoid problems and get the full benefit from your break.

Stress Seems obvious…. but try not to succumb to the inevitable stress associated with going away as it leaves you more vulnerable to injury and illness.

Stretch and move When on a coach, train or plane make sure you get up and move around at least once every 30 minutes to relieve pressure and improve circulation.

Holding a fixed position for an extended period of time – such as being sat in a cramped aeroplane for hours – can be a common trigger for aches and pains even if you don’t suffer with back pain. If possible, book an aisle seat so that you can stretch out and move around easily.

If you suffer from back pain take a lumbar support pillow or make your own by rolling up a small towel, t-shirt, or blanket. Roll it up with enough thickness so that your knees are not being pushed forward and place it in the small of your back.

Luggage Choose a bag with wheels and don’t over pack….22kgs doesn’t mean you have to take 22kgs! Try to spread the load over two bags if possible. For your cabin bag choose a small rucksack which distributes the weight evenly over your shoulders allowing you to move around easily.

Lifting your case Think before you lift and try not to rush to remove your case from the airport carousel; you may have stiffened up from sitting for a long time and your muscles will not be warmed up.

When trying to lift heavy luggage, bend from the knees rather than arching your back. Ensure your body is facing what you are trying to lift and in alignment with your feet so you are not twisting your spine when lifting.

Mattress Try and find out in advance what the mattresses are like at your hotel. If you find the mattress is too hard put some spare blankets or a duvet under you. If you end up with a soft mattress consider putting it on the floor.

Pillow Try to replicate the pillow height you’re used to at home which may mean folding up a towel to put under the pillow to raise it up. Some patients with chronic neck pain choose to bring their own pillows on holiday.

Sunbeds Be careful not to spend too long in one position absorbed in that thriller; the facet joints in the spine can become compressed by lying on your front, and, on your back, the discs can be put under strain if not supported well (a small rolled up towel under your tummy or behind your back may help).