Holiday Travel & Back Pain

PhysioAdvisor Newsletter > Holiday Travel & Back Pain

PhysioAdvisor Newsletter – Holiday Travel & Back Pain

Holiday Travel

With the summer holidays here, many families are getting away to enjoy the warmer weather and be close to the water. With this usually comes long distance car or plane travel, heavy luggage to carry around, a disruption to your normal health and fitness regime, and often, a recurrence of back pain. In this month’s Newsletter, we offer some practical tips to maintain a healthy spine and reduce the risk of a back injury recurrence over the holiday period.

Our Top Tips for Preventing Holiday Back Pain

Back Pain

Get Comfortable

Whether you are driving, sitting in a car or travelling on a plane you are most likely going to be sitting for an extended period. Make sure you are comfortable right from the start and avoid having any luggage cramping your posture. Keep space free for your feet and shoulders so you can regularly stretch out your feet, ankles, neck and shoulders.

Maintain Good Posture

Use a Lumbar Support, Car Seat Support or a rolled up towel to maintain the natural lumbar curve. This will help maintain your spine in good alignment and minimise the risk of slouching. Keep your bottom in the back of the chair and ensure the back rest of the chair is as upright and vertical as possible. Make sure you aren’t sitting on your wallet, mobile phone or anything else in your back pocket, as this will affect your posture. Ensure the Esky or kayak paddles aren’t jutting into your side as this will also affect the alignment of your spine.


If driving, ensure the steering wheel is nice and close to you so as to minimise reaching. If it is too far away from you, it will tend to round your shoulders and upper back and place undue stress on the neck and lower back.


If sitting in the car or plane for extended periods, regularly move your feet and ankles, knees, neck, back and shoulders every 15-20mins or so. Performing gentle movements regularly helps with blood flow and can prevent joints from stiffening up.

Have Regular Breaks

If you are travelling by car, plan to stop at least every 1-2 hours to get out, stretch the legs and spine, and to perform some basic back exercises. Consider having a picnic rug handy, ready to place on the grass at the rest station and perform some basic back stretches. If travelling by plane, request an aisle seat where possible, so you are able to stand up regularly, walk up and down the plane and perform some back exercises in standing.

Lie Down

If your back pain is starting to come on quite severely, and by chance the back seat of the car is free, use it to lie down and rest. Likewise, if the seats next to you on the plane are free, pull up the arm rests and lie down to straighten your spine. Try to get as comfortable as possible using pillows and blankets whilst giving your back a chance to be nice and straight.

Moderate Sitting Periods

One of the most common causes of back pain over the holiday period is an increase in sitting – in the car or plane, at cafes or restaurants, by the pool, watching a movie, or on sight-seeing tours. Sometimes sitting can take up the majority of the day. Instead, try to keep a balance between sitting periods and walking or lying with your back straight. Try to keep sitting periods to less than 30 minutes at a time and total sitting for the day to less than 3 hours. Take opportunities to walk along the beach or by the shops or to lie down by the pool instead of sitting.


Consult your doctor in advance and discuss your medication options so that in the event your back pain troubles you while you are away, you already have the appropriate pain relief at hand.

Handling Luggage

Pack light to minimise the weight of your luggage and to reduce the load on your back when carrying. Ideally, purchase bags which have wheels to minimise the need to carry. At the airport, use trolleys where possible to transport the luggage as close to the drop off and pick up zones to save your back. Ensure you always maintain a straight spine and use optimal technique when lifting.

Maintain Your Fitness Regime

Often on holidays, your fitness regime can be forgotten whilst you relax on the beach and enjoy the cafes and restaurants. Try to maintain your usual fitness regime by maintaining your daily walk or jog, by purchasing a weekly pass at the local gym or by taking along with you your own resistance band for strength training or Pilates exercises.

Physiotherapy Travel Products

Lumbar Roll   Lumbar Support

Maintain the natural curve of your lower back to help your posture and minimise back pain whilst sitting.

Car Seat Support   Car Seat Support


Maintain the natural curve of your lower back to help your posture and minimise back pain whilst driving.

TENS Machine   TENS Machine

Relieve back pain quickly and without the need for medication with a lightweight, portable TENS Machine.

Travel Pillow   Travel Pillow

An ideal travel companion to support the neck and allow comfortable sleep whilst sitting in a car or a plane.

Hot & Cold Pack   Hot & Cold Pack

This lightweight and versatile hot and cold pack is perfect for holiday travel for the immediate treatment of unexpected aches or pains.

Resistance Band   Resistance Band

Maintain your strength and fitness regime whilst away from home with some resistance band. Lightweight and easily packable, resistance band fits perfectly into any suitcase.

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