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Summer holidays

Packed and ready for the off?

School holidays are upon us and many families will be heading off on their summer break.  Whether you are heading to idyllic hideaways overseas or staying at home to make the most of the British summer, don't allow back pain to spoil your holiday.

BCA chiropractor, Jenny Hudson advises “We tend to be out of our usual routine when on holiday; just picking up a suitcase in the wrong way or lying on a sun lounger in an awkward position can result in pain. These issues can potentially be avoided and, in doing so, make the difference between a break of a lifetime or a miserable trip, so be aware of some simple steps you can take, particularly at the start of your holiday.”

The holiday back and posture guide from the British Chiropractic Association is here to help!

Pack for success!
• Suitcase selection – choose wisely and buy the lightest case possible that has wheels. Most hard cases can weigh a lot, even with nothing in them.
• Two cases are better than one - If possible, take two light suitcases rather than one so you can distribute the weight more evenly.

• If using soft bags, make sure they have a long shoulder strap as this will enable you to wear the bag across your body and more evenly distribute the weight of the bag.

• Push, don’t pull! Many wheeled bags encourage you to pull the from behind, but this makes the upper body/back twist. Try instead to push the case in front of you.
• Get a good night’s sleep – travelling when tired increases your chances of injury, so make sure you sleep well the night before a flight and avoid rushing around.

Flying?
• Flying high - If you are flying to get to your destination, drink plenty of water or juice during the flight. Avoid alcohol as this can cause dehydration which, in turn, could aggravate muscle pain.
• Air-exercise – you will be restricted to your seat for most of the flight, but avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles. Do the same if you are travelling by train. Whenever you get the opportunity, get up and move around.

Arriving at the airport

• Avoid ‘travelators’ – get your joints moving quickly after a flight by walking through the terminal rather than opting for the easy option of a moving walkway.
• Round and round – ensure your bag is easily identifiable (e.g. knot a ribbon around the handle) to avoid lifting other people’s heavy cases off the carousel in error.
• Steer clear of trolleys – unless your cases don't not have wheels of their own, try not to use airport trolleys. Wonky wheels are common and you could hurt your back trying to correct a wayward trolley.

Driving to get to your destination?

• Make adjustments – Many back problems are caused or aggravated poor driving posture. Whether you are in your own car or have a hire car, ensure the seat position is slightly backwards so that it feels natural and that your elbows are at a comfortable and relaxed angle.

• Relax at the wheel, as this reduces stress on the spine and allows your seat to take your weight.

• Keep an eye on the clock – Stop and stretch your legs (and arms!) at least every two hours.

• If you are stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends, shoulder shrugs and circles.

• Keep it loose – Don’t wear tight clothing as it will restrict your movement.

When you get there

• When you get to your hotel, if your bed is too hard ask the hotel staff for a spare duvet or blanket to put between you and the mattress. Firm beds are not always best, but it is easier to soften a hard bed than make a soft bed harder. The same with pillows.

• Check the pillow(s) on your bed allow your head to stay in alignment with rest of your body and mold to the shape of your head and neck. Ask to change pillows if you are not happy. Many people take their own pillow away with them, although this is not always practical

• If you’re heading to the sun loungers, try not to lie on your tummy with your back and neck arched back when reading your book or magazine. Put the reading matter on the floor, so that you can view it over the edge of the sun bed; this should allow you to keep your head and neck in a more neutral position.

• Exercise in safety – If keeping in shape is on your holiday agenda, ensure you have a full induction to the hotel gym equipment.