Travel tips to avoid back & neck pain.

May 27, 2013

The summer holiday season is here so we thought we would put our heads together to give you some travel tips about how to keep back and neck pain at bay and of course, to make sure you have a wonderful time.


  1. Stress – Seems obvious but try not to succumb to the inevitable stress associated with holidays, as it leaves you more vulnerable to injury & illness.
  2. Be early – Get to the airport early! Prevents standing in queues for long periods. If stuck in long queues and you are travelling with someone, don’t just stand there, take turns going for a walk.
  3. Insurance – Make sure you have adequate travel insurance in case of emergencies. Online insurance forms are convenient but if you have any concerns speak directly to adviser. Always be honest, insurance companies may not automatically cover you. If have a European destination make sure you bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
  4. Regular breaks when driving – If you are travelling by car try to take regular breaks! If you are at the mercy of a relentless driver, who is on a mission, feign a dodgy tummy, nervous bladder or travel sickness (chances are they are also quite car proud!). It’s important to get out of the car and walk about.
  5. Stretch & move – When on a coach, train or plane make sure you get up and move around at least every half an hour to help relieve pressure and improve circulation.
  6. Pain killers – If you do require pain killers make sure they are accessible and they are not in your hold luggage! Make sure you pack any prescribed medication like pain killers / muscle relaxants / Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), e.g. Ibuprofen.
  7. Luggage – Choose a small rucksack instead of a large handbag or fashionable cabin case. It’s a healthier ergonomic solution (as it distributes weight equally across the shoulders) and it also allows you a free hand to hold on to kids. Choose a case / bag that has wheels, preferable also with two handles for the occasions when you have to lift it. Don’t over pack. 22 kgs doesn’t mean you have to take 22 kgs.

    Travel Tips to avoid back & neck pain.

    Travel Tips to avoid back & neck pain.

  8. Lifting your case – Be cautious when removing your luggage from the carousel. You’ve just been sitting for a long time so you may be stiff, muscles not warmed up and you may be lifting quickly with one hand from a moving conveyor belt.
  9. Mattress – Try and find out in advance what the mattresses are like at your hotel (lots of review sites). In some countries (like India – fond memories!) mattresses can typically be wafer thin, not made for the more than ample Western body. If you find that the mattress is too hard put some spare blankets or a duvet under it. If you end up with a soft (hammock-like) mattress consider putting it on the floor.
  10. Pillow – If you normally have two pillows at home ask for an extra one if there is only one supplied. Some of our patients who have chronic neck pain actually bring their memory foam pillows with them on holiday.
  11. Holiday activities – Have a good time of course but be cautious of the effects of sunshine & sangria. Unaccustomed activities such as swimming (that you only do on holiday) should be introduced gradually, never mind the more demanding activities like banana boat rides, windsurfing and bungee jumping! Swimming is a really great activity but it can potentially cause problems. The crawl is much preferred to the breast stroke (which has been associated with neck, back and knee pain).
  12. Sun beds – Another potential hazard are sun beds. Lying for prolonged periods, particularly on your front, can cause pain by compressing the facet joints in your back (a small rolled up towel placed under your abdomen can help). The problem is you generally don’t feel the ill effects to later that or the following day. So many patients have realised the dangers of laying on their stomachs on a lounger while reading a really absorbing book, after the fact! Make sure you get up and move about and not simply roll from back to front.

    Relax, unwind but stay active!

    Relax, unwind but stay active!

  13. Back & neck pain aids – Cold and/or hot pack for use at your hotel. For those who suffer from Coccyx pain think of a Coccyx Cushion (not the doughnut type, which has been associated with reduced blood flow). For those with neck pain think of a neck support. For those with lower back pain consider a lumbar support (you can also get an inflatable version that is both space saving & adjustable).
  14. Footwear – Flip flops although comfortable have no support and should only be worn for short periods. They lack arch support and also cause a change in walking gait because of the way they cause you to grip with your toes. Not only can it cause back problems but can lead to plantar fasciitis, twisted ankles, knee and hip pain. If you go walking wear shoes or trainers.
  15. See your Osteopath – Book a spinal check with your Osteopath if you have a pre-holiday ‘niggle’ or if you are concerned. Get an appropriate exercise program from your osteopath or physiotherapist. Get fit before your holiday! Whether its hill walking, swimming or beach volley ball think about getting your body into a suitable condition beforehand.

For more specific travel tips please contact the team at Cheadle Osteopathy.  0161 478 1877.


Travel tips to avoid back & neck pain. – Cheadle Osteopathy.

Related Posts

Meet the team – Cyril Irvine
Meet the team – Cyril Irvine

Cyril is a much loved osteopath, at Cheadle Osteopathy, as well as one of the business partners.  He also works for ITV as a consultant in manual handling training.   His patients will testify, that you always have a good laugh with Cyril; he will lift your...

read more