Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or first-timer, these travelling tips will be sure to make your next trip as pain-free as possible.
Travelling is exciting! And as a tourist you want to get around to see all the sights. This involves days filled with endless walking, many stairs, and lugging heavy bags around. All of which are not necessarily a part of your daily routine, and can lead to niggling pains.
Common traveling ‘injuries’ include neck stiffness, shoulder pain, low back pain and sore feet. Many of these things can be minimised or even avoided by checking these points off on your list.
· Type of bag – Depending on how efficient you are at packing your suitcase, it can weigh around 20kg. Lugging that weight around can put a lot of strain on the body, especially your shoulders and low back. There is a lot of choice these days in terms of suitcase features, so try to make sure your case has wheels as this makes it much easier to transport your belongings around. For those people who are prone to shoulder pain, it may be worth considering a case that has 4 wheels, as this places the least amount of strain on the shoulder. The only issue is that wheels don’t mix well with stairs, so keep your eyes peeled for lifts and escalators.
· Footwear – If your trip involves a lot of walking, the most practical type of footwear is a runner. Of course it’s not the most fashionable look wearing runners with jeans but there are a lot of brands out now that make ‘casual’ looking runners. These are the best option of footwear because they have the best support for lasting a whole day on your feet. If you are going to a beach destination where closed shoes are unfavourable, try to find a pair of sandals with support or which have a slight heel. Converting to a completely flat sandal/thong or bare feet all day every day can lead to problems such as plantar fasciitis. Another option is to mix it up by switching between flats and something with a bit of a lift.
· Keep well hydrated – Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water. If we don’t maintain our fluid levels our bodies aren’t able to function properly, which can often present as fatigue. It can be easy to forget about drinking water while exploring new places. Try to keep a small bottle of water at hand so that you prevent dehydration-related fatigue and are then able to continue sightseeing all day long!
· Sleeping on a foreign bed/pillow: Most of the beds we sleep on in holiday accommodation don’t quite compare to the comfort of our bed back home. It is common to feel some neck stiffness or tightness when sleeping on a different bed and pillow. This can usually be fixed by having a few stretches in the memory bank to help release the problem areas. Before jet-setting off, it may be worthwhile having a chat with your physio to devise a couple of stretches that will work best for you.
· Easy to pack tools – Packing those suitcases involves a fine art of tetris arrangement! There are a few physio tools that will squeeze in easily and help in times of need. Theraband weighs next to nothing and scrunches up nicely so that you can continue with your rehab and maintain strength while you’re away. Another favourite is the spikey ball – always a good little tool to pack in order to roll out those tight areas after all that walking (eg. Glutes and feet).
Laura Anderson, APAM, is a physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor at Lifecare Ashburton Sports Medicine. Laura provides Pilates and Physiotherapy services to clients from Ashburton, Camberwell, Oakleigh and Burwood. For more on Laura please see our practitioners page