Osteopathic Health Centre Blog


Travel tips to avoid back and neck pain
Saturday, 17 August 2013 07:26


About to embark on a late summer holiday? Don't want back pain to spoil your fun? Here are some tips on how to look after yourself and get the full benefit from your break.

1. 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.

2. Travel Insurance. Emergencies can happen on holiday so it's important to have adequate cover. If you're travelling in Europe, don't forget your EHIC card.

3. Regular breaks when driving.  If you're travelling by car try to take regular breaks. If you're at the mercy of a relentless driver who is on a mission, feign a dodgy tummy, nervous bladder or travel sickness (chances are they are also quite car proud). It's important to get out of the car and walk about and even stretch and circle your shoulders as you do so.

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

5. Luggage. Choose a bag with wheels and don't over pack....22kgs doesn't mean you have to take 22kgs. For your cabin bag, choose a small rucksack which distributes the weight evenly over your shoulders allowing you to hold onto kid's hands, browse the departure lounge and stand in queues easily.

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

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

8. 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 actually bring their own pillows on holiday.

9. Sun beds. 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). The problem is you generally don't feel the ill effects to later day that or the following day. Make sure you get up and move about frequently.

holiday back care

10.Back and neck pain aids. Cold/hot packs, heat or freeze gels and inflatable or lightweight neck supports or  lumbar support cushions may be worth fitting into your luggage if you know you benefit from  them. 

11. Footwear. Back pain and lower limb pain can be aggravated by the wrong footwear. Sandals with good arch support are preferable to  flipflops which should  be worn for short periods only as they cause a change in walking gait because you have to grip with your toes to keep them on.

12. See your Osteopath. Book a check with your osteopath if you have a pre-holiday niggle or if you're concerned. Sort out an appropriate exercise programme for your back and for the holiday activities you plan to do... so.... whether it's hill walking, swimming or beach volley ball, your body is in a suitable condition beforehand.

Bon Voyage!