The Spinal Answer

Sun, Sea and Back Pain?

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As Brits return from their summer holidays, new consumer research has found that almost half (48%) of the nation’s holidaymakers have experienced back or neck pain on their trip.

According to the survey, from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), respondents stated that sleeping in a bed with an unfamiliar mattress (23%) or pillow (18%) were the biggest causes of back or neck pain while away from home.

A fifth (18%) of Brits have pointed to travelling as a trigger for their back or neck pain. 15% of jet-setters experienced pain following long haul flights, whilst driving (10%) and long coach/train journeys (11%) were also common triggers.

BCA Chiropractor Rishi Loatey offers advice for holidaymakers who are experiencing back and neck pain on their travels:

“Holidays are precious and the last thing we want is for people to come back from their break feeling worse than when they left. Many of the triggers of back pain on holiday are easily preventable though, and as people prepare to head away for the August Bank holiday it’s good to be aware that there are a number of simple steps that you can take to help avoid pain.

“For example, making sure your car is set up correctly ahead of a long journey will help your posture. Pushing your suitcase rather than pulling it can also help to prevent your back from twisting. If you have a few minutes spare during your break why not try the BCA’s Straighten Up UK programme – just three minutes of simple exercises a day can help to build strength and flexibility in the spine, which in turn can help to prevent problems with back and neck pain.”

With many Brits preparing to get away over the bank holiday BCA has released their top tips for reducing holiday related back pain:

Pack for success

  • More than one in 10 (12%) people pointed to their luggage as a cause of back or neck pain, but this doesn’t have to be the case! Look for the lightest bag possible on wheels as most hard cases can weigh a lot, even with nothing in them.
  • If there’s two of you, taking your own, smaller, suitcases can help reduce the weight carried by one passenger. Be careful when loading your cases in and out of the car or on the airport baggage carousel. If possible, pushing your suitcase instead of pulling can also help to prevent your back from twisting and the newer style of suitcase on four wheels can help to reduce the load on your back as well.


First class comfort

  • On the plane, remember to get up from your seat and walk around at least every 2 hours. Simple exercises like shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles can all help to keep your body active in flight too.


Sleep well

  • Even the best quality hotel beds may not be the right fit for your back. If the bed is too hard when you arrive, try asking reception for an additional duvet or blanket to put between you and the mattress to help soften it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel to swap your pillows too if you’re not happy. They should allow your head and neck to rest comfortably while feeling supported.


To lounge or not to lounge?

  • It’s tempting to spend your whole trip lying on a sun lounger, however one in ten people pointed to long periods of inactivity as a key trigger of their pain. Staying active is important for preventing back or neck pain and holidays are a great time to try new activities like swimming or why not take a walk around the area?
  • When you are relaxing by the pool though, try putting your book on the floor and reading over the edge of your sun bed, rather than arching upwards.


In at the deep end…

  • Whether you’re skiing or waterskiing, trying sports which you don’t practice on a regular basis can be a shock to your muscles. Trying some simple exercises which ‘warm up’ any unused muscles before you go can help reduce your chance of injury. Try balancing exercises, squats, sit ups and cycling before putting on any skis.


Stay hydrated

  • Hot weather or traipsing around the city means your body requires more water than usual – and dehydration can exacerbate back or neck pain. Remember to drink lots of water, especially if you’re enjoying a drink or two in the evening.


The BCA has also created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help improve posture and prevent back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.

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