With the summer holidays now upon us we are getting ready for the annual rush of patients booking in for last minute treatment. We want to make sure that any back, shoulder or neck pain is sorted out before our patients head off on their holiday. We are of course always happy to help with treatment but here are some simple and effective tips designed to keep you pain free and able to enjoy your well earnt time off!!!
1. The Journey
Many of you will be flying on budget airlines which are fitted with notoriously uncomfortable seats that no longer recline. The first thing to remember about sitting is try and get up out of your seat as regularly as possible and ideally at least once an hour. Even standing up in the aisle for a minute or two will help prevent the neck and back from stiffening up.
If you are likely to take a nap during the flight then it’s worth investing in an inflatable neck support cushion. These will prevent the head rolling into an awkward position and straining the neck joints and muscles. If you can’t get hold of a cushion then rolling up a small towel or T-shirt can work as a good substitute.
If you are prone to low back pain then a rolled up towel placed in the small of your back can also help offer some lumbar support. If you are planning to drive long distances the same advice applies. Make sure your car seat is in a good position with your knees slightly bent and your hands able to comfortably reach the steering wheel. Have regular rest breaks where you get out of the car and have a good stretch. Aim to stop at least once every couple of hours.
Where possible avoid large and bulky suitcases which are difficult to manoeuvre. Most suitcases now have wheels and handles to pull them. Make sure the handles are adjusted to the right height to avoid low back pain. When putting bags and suitcases in the overhead locker on planes stand square on and close to the locker. Use both arms to lift the case. Ideally, placing one on each side and slowly lift the case above head height.
If you suffer from any shoulder or neck pain don’t be afraid to ask a fellow passenger or cabin crew to help you. When taking your case out of the locker all the same advice applies. Rucksacks are always worth considering if you intend to be moving from place to place with your luggage.
3. Pillows and beds
Pillows and beds can be a source of problems for everyone. Not necessarily because they are of poor quality but often just because they are not what we are used to back home. With pillows, if you have space in your suitcase or car for one of your own then make sure you pack it.
If that’s not possible then aim to prop up any thin or flimsy pillows that you may find in your holiday accommodation. Ideally the head and neck needs to be supported so that if you are lying on your side your head is in a neutral position. The head should not be dropping down towards the bed or being pushed too far away from the mattress. Similarly, if you are lying on your back you don’t want your head to be dropping backwards or being flexed forwards too much.
Using 2 thin pillows is often enough to achieve this. Another option is to neatly fold a towel up and place it underneath the pillow. This should improve the support and comfort. If suffering from acute neck pain, a tightly rolled towel placed under the neck can be helpful in supporting the neck and alleviating pain.
Beds and mattresses are of course harder to deal with. If the bed is offering very little support or is too uneven, it may be worth placing the mattress on the floor.
4. Ice packs and simple pain relief
This may sound obvious but it is always worth taking a packet of basic painkillers and anti-inflammatories with you (providing you have no medical reasons preventing you from taking them). Also if you have a gel ice pack and access to a fridge or freezer whilst you are away then pack it in your suitcase and pop it in the freezer when you arrive. In many cases of neck and back joint strains a combination of ice, painkillers and anti-inflammatories is enough to keep the symptoms under control. Always remember to wrap the ice pack in a towel or T-shirt. Apply it for no more than 10 minutes at a time and ideally at regular intervals up to 3 or 4 times a day.
Finally, although many of you will be on holiday to relax it is important to fit some gentle exercise into your daily routine. Swimming of course can be very good for your muscles and joints. Going for a gentle stroll once or twice a day is also a good idea to help prevent joints stiffening up. Whilst many of you will enjoy relaxing on a lounger and reading a good book it is important to get up every hour or so to reduce the risks of postural strains developing.
We hope that the above tips help to keep you pain free and able to enjoy your holidays to the full. Don’t forget we are experts in dealing with mechanical neck, back and shoulder pain so if you would like any treatment or additional advice please give us a call on:
01223 868300 or 07582 128662
We wish all our patients a Happy Healthy Holiday!!!!