Back pain on holidays

Avoid suffering back pain this summer

At Apex Clinic, Belfast every summer we frequently hear how back pain has ruined many people’s annual holiday. What should be a relaxing and fun time is ruined by pain from long flights, uncomfortable mattresses and hours spent lounging on sun-beds, which may be doing more damage than you realise.

With many of us jetting off to warmer climes, this month Clinic Founder and Spinal Physiotherapy Specialist, Rebecca Nelson, shares some valuable advice on looking after your back on holiday to ensure pain doesn’t spoil your fun in the sun.

Sitting comfortably?

Long haul flights are a major contributing factor for lower back pain, but one way to reduce this is to recline your chair back for as far as possible for the duration of the flight. Positioning your seat at the optimum reclined angle of 35-45 degrees is perfect for reducing the load through your back discs, making it less susceptible to injury. Getting up regularly and walking in the aisles will also reduce the risk of injury.

Don’t overdo it on arrival

The first 24 hours after flying is when your back is most vulnerable to injury so taking care of it during this timeframe is paramount. Upon arrival, resist the urge to lug around heavy suitcases, go running, walk on steep inclines or lift heavy weights as these activities can cause lower back injuries, and so best avoided for 24 hours.

Use sun loungers wisely

Relaxing by the pool could play havoc with your lower back, but following these simple tips can go a long way to reducing the load on it. Firstly, raise your lounger to an angle of between 35 to 45 degrees from the vertical position to avoid lying horizontally, as this is much kinder on your back. Secondly, roll up two towels and place them under both knees to create a slight bend.

When it comes to lying on your stomach, towels also come in handy here. This time, fold a beach towel to create at least four layers and place it under your stomach to stop your lower back joints jamming together.

Finally, break up prolonged sunbathing with brisk walking or swimming to reduce the risk of a flare up of lower back problems.

Swim safely

Warm weather calls for a dip in the pool to cool down but we recommend ditching the breaststroke, which can aggravate existing back pain. Instead, keep cool and your back happy by gently jogging on the spot, walking in the water or treading water to move around.

Stay on level ground

By exposing our lower backs to lots of potential risks on holiday, we recommend minimising walking/running up a steep incline to avoid placing a high load on back discs, which can lead to extreme pain. Opt for flat surfaces such as the beach, which also offers shock absorption, reducing the risk of injury.

Your mattress matters

If your mattress on holiday is too soft and you experience back pain in the morning, ask for a replacement. If this isn’t an option, we recommend taking your bedding to the floor and sleeping there in order to reduce the risk of waking up in pain.

Apex Clinic can clear your pain for good

At Apex Clinic, Belfast we have an extremely high success rate in clearing back pain, even when patients have had unsuccessful treatments in the past elsewhere. If you suffer from back pain, help is at hand. Book an appointment with one of our specialist physiotherapists to clear your pain. No GP referral is necessary.