Holiday Back Care

Our physiotherapy team treat more back or neck problems caused from holiday and business travel than from participating in sport or from accidents. In particular, at this time of year “the sun lounger back” is a common condition presented at our studio and clinic. Posture awareness whilst travelling and relaxing will help prevent problems. Try these tips:

Safe Sun Lounging

Besides protecting yourself from sunburn by using a good quality lotion, sun hat or shady umbrella, think about your posture as you rest. Lying face down and holding a book to read with your upper back and neck arched is likely to compress the cervical spine. If you want to tan your back whilst reading, place your book, kindle or magazine on the floor and look down over the sun lounger to keep your back lengthened and in as neutral a position as possible.

Not all sun loungers are the same. If possible find one which is a little more substantial, if it is nothing more than a lightly sprung deckchair there will be too little support for a vulnerable back. If that is your only choice, try tanning on a beach towel on the floor, placing the cushions from the sun lounger on the floor and limit the time you spend in the sun lounger, starting with just 10 minutes on the first day and building it up by 5 minutes every day.

Suitcases and Luggage

If you are planning to travel with heavy luggage, divide into two bags, far better to pay for an extra bag than pay for lengthy or recurring treatment costs and suffer pain. If you are carrying more than one bag, balance the weight to avoid leaning heavily to one side and compensating with the other.

Most of us will be using the “wheelie suitcase” – push in front of you not behind to avoid pulling back, shoulder, neck and arm muscles.

Driving and Flying

If you are planning a long drive to your destination – swap the driving with another adult, take breaks every 2 hours pulling safely off the motorway and walk around. When it is safe to do so, do small exercises at the wheel – pull in your abdominals, circle and shrug your shoulders, and move your wrists and fingers (politely that is!)

Wherever possible reserve a seat on the plane with an option of more legroom, it really is worth paying just a little extra for. Get out of your seat at least every two hours and take a walk along the full length of the plane, stand by the toilets/service areas and circle the hips. In your seat perform small neck circles, ankle circles and shoulder shrugs/circles.

Airports, Ferry Ports, Railway Stations

If you have just arrived at your destination, get moving and use the stairs rather than the escalators.

Working On The Go

Before being tempted to check your emails, check your position. An unfamiliar desk at the wrong height, or a slumped posture with your iPad on your lap can be avoided with a traffic light approach. STOP, THINK & CHECK, GO.


Before leaving ask your physiotherapist or Pilates instructor for a few simple exercises to perform in your hotel room or on your villa bedroom floor. Maintaining regular exercise will make a significant difference in the management of good posture and prevention of back/neck pain.

Enjoy your trip.

Celia Carron
Director, Little Venice Pilates and Physiotherapy