Holiday season is here!

Many of us will be celebrating with our families, friends and are on our way to getting some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

If you’re planning on travelling soon, consider the following advice to save your back!

Luggage Basics

Heavy lifting, bending and repetitive twisting into awkward spaces can increase potential for injury. Knowing what to pack and how to handle your luggage is the first step in keeping you pain free these holidays.

» Pack efficiently

» Write down what you and the family need during your trip

» Find travel size, miniature, light and space efficient versions of things you need

» Use multiple smaller bags instead of one large bag. However, if you’re limited to one bag i.e. with some airlines, pack as light as possible.

» Perform proper lifting techniques when you’re adding or removing your luggage from a car or the baggage carousel.

•  Remember to use your core muscles and bend the knees to lift. To move an item, pivot with your feet.

•  Keep the heavy item close to your tummy until you have set it down.

» Switch your luggage(s) from one hand to the other so you do not have one-sided pain. This includes the push (luggage with four wheels) and pull (luggage with two wheels) suitcases.

» When using a back pack, add the heaviest and flattest items towards the spine.  Also the recommended maximum weight of the backpack is 10-15% of your body weight.*

*This will be much less if you have a painful or pre-existing condition in your spine. Your Chiropractor should be able to let you know about how much you should carry or lift.

Travelling by Car

The long rides and prolonged sitting in the car can contribute to many muscle aches and pains. The smallest niggle can turn into a raging pain later.

» Check the seat it has adequate lumbar support. If your lower back feels like it’s sinking in, place an additional lumbar support or rolled towel to fill the space between your lower back and the seat.

» Switch your tummy muscles on. This helps minimise the strain of the low-grade vibrations from the car into your back. When you’re turning your tummy muscles on, make sure you can still breathe and talk!

» Bring your shoulder blades back and down to drop the shoulders, with your eyes looking straight ahead including chin tucked back. This will help reduce the pressure on your neck.

» Try not to turn and face the back seat too often. The bending and twisting motions can add strain to the muscles.

» Have stops every 2 hours so you can get out of the car to walk and have a stretch. You may need to have more regular stops if recommended by your health practitioner.

Make sure you are always alert when driving. You can do this by switching the postural muscles on as mentioned above, keeping hydrated and not being hungry.

Remember if you are ever feeling hungry, sleepy or agitated, switch drivers or pull over and take a rest.

Travelling by Airplane

Long flights are a common cause of muscle aches and pains because of the lack of movement from being stationary and being in a smaller space.

» Try to stand, walk and stretch every hour.

» Stay hydrated. The circulated air conditioning in the cabins causes the air to be very dry and can cause dehydration. Avoid or minimise the amount of alcohol consumed.

» Try and keep you back supported by either using a lumbar support or roll the blanket provided by the airlines to fill the gap of your lower back and seat.

» Use compression socks or stockings if you are at high risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

» Regularly roll your ankles and point your toes to help with circulation. Your calf muscles will act like a ‘second heart’ to reduce swelling of your feet and ankles.

» If the airline provides exercises or stretches in your seat pocket, do them.

Along with getting your spine checked before any travels, these tips are a great start to keeping your body strong and mobile these holidays.

If you do find yourself needing help for an injury, Call Us on 02 9899 1416.

Helpful links

Acute Care – Ice vs Heat