Don’t let back pain get between you and your summer staycation
Summer holidays are one of the highlights of the year and even though restrictions are lifting, many of us are choosing to stay closer to home and enjoy some time away in the UK. Travelling long distances in the car, taking on new outdoor activities or sleeping in a new bed can all cause unwanted pain in your neck or back, so here are our top tips on avoiding discomfort in your back so you can enjoy a comfortable staycation.
It’s easier said than done but only bring the essentials. Make life easier by lightening the load and leaving behind that 7th pair of shoes that you won’t wear! The recommended maximum weight of a backpack is 10-15% of your body weight, so no need to pack for three weeks when you are only going away for one.
Also be sure to lift any suitcases into the car by bending through the knees and hips to use your leg muscles and try to keep your back straight – this is often a cause of strain and getting into pain before your staycation has even started is less than ideal!
Hitting the hills With beautiful scenery on our doorstep, hiking is often commonplace in British holidays. To prevent back ache from getting between you and your next outdoor adventure, wear flat, supportive and flexible footwear and a bag that can be carried on both shoulders and has adjustable straps to distribute the weight evenly. Improve your balance by keeping your hands out of your pockets and off your straps to avoid any slips or falls.
Pedalling into the sunset Cycling is another activity many of us enjoy whilst away, but if you aren’t used to hitting the pedals regularly it can cause discomfort. Avoid straining your back, neck, shoulders or wrists when on your bike by ensuring you are set up in a safe and comfortable position. You should be able to reach the handlebars with no more than a 60-degree angle of your back relative to the floor. Try positioning your seat so you’re flat or sloping slightly forwards to minimise strain on your lower back and adjusting your seat to the right height to allow maximum pedalling efficiency; when the pedal is at the bottom, you should be able to sit on the seat with your leg almost straight with only a slight bend at the knee.
Sleeping You may find yourself sleeping in a different bed or even on an air mattress or camp bed during your travels. To get a better night’s sleep wherever you are, make sure you adopt a good sleeping position. Your head shouldn’t be too high, so try sleeping with one pillow if you usually sleep with two, this allows for a neutral or near neutral neck position. You’ll naturally change positions whilst you sleep, but when you first get into bed the best position is on your side, so your neck isn’t twisted. Make sure you stay off tech before sleeping too! Not only does using technology make it harder for you to settle down to sleep due to the way it stimulates the brain, it can also cause back or neck pain due to your neck not being properly supported while you’re looking down at your screen especially if you haven’t moved your neck much after a long journey to your destination during the day.
Lounging in the sun If you’re lucky enough to enjoy some British sunshine on your holiday, it may be tempting to lie on a sun lounger or on the beach floor all day. However, one in ten people point to inactivity as a common trigger of back pain, so make sure you move around regularly. Break up those Vitamin D top up sessions with a dip in the sea or walk on the beach.
Stay Hydrated It’s really easy to become dehydrated in hot weather or whilst you’re more active. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids to avoid the dangers of dehydration such as cramp and heat exhaustion.
Published by The British Chiropractic Association, BCA