Safety steps for happier holidays

The CSP and chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo have teamed up to provide simple tips to avoid holiday injuries this year.

Safety steps for happier holidays

Holidays should be a time to relax and unwind. But Chartered Physiotherapists are warning that the stress of packing and travelling can put holidaymakers at risk of picking up strains and sprains before they even hit the beach.

To help people arrive at their holiday destination in good health, physiotherapist Sammy Margo has worked with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to produce a 12-point holiday health guide ñ see below.

'Holidays are about unwinding from all the stresses and strains of everyday life and undoing the damage we do to ourselves through the rest of the year,' Sammy says.

But Sammy says having to contend with masses to organise and a lengthy journey can lead to awkward postures, which might cause or aggravate physical problems. Common holiday-related problems include back and neck injuries.

'We forget we're doing something out of the ordinary ñ that could include sitting for hours in cramped seats, queuing and lifting heavy bags. All that combined with high stress levels could mean putting our bodies into postures we're not accustomed to.

'Even the most simple holiday pleasures can create discomfort. For example, just going for a walk along the beach with bare feet or in the wrong footwear can lead to inflammation and pain in your knees, calves or feet, through over-stretched tendons and ligaments,' Sammy says.

There are simple ways to avoid injury when doing activities that are not part of your usual every day routine. See below for Sammy's top tips.

Notes for Editors:

SEE 12-POINT GUIDE BELOW

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country's 45,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. A full archive of earlier CSP press releases can be found by visiting http://www.csp.org.uk/.

For more information, call the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616 / 6163 / 6628.

CSP HOLIDAY HEALTH GUIDE

Packing a bag: ∑ Place your bag on a higher surface such as a bed, to avoid bending your back to pack. Awkward bending and twisting may cause back pain.

Lifting your bag:

  • Breathe in and pull your stomach in. Keep your feet wide apart, with your back straight, bend your knees to lift the bag up, holding the item close to your body.

  • If a bag is particularly heavy, share the weight with someone else. If possible, use a bag with wheels.

Placing in, and removing bags from, the car or luggage racks:

  • The same as above, but if you have to lift bags above your waist, try not to over-extend your back. Ensure you can manage the weight of hand luggage and if not, get someone to help.

Standing in queues:

  • When standing and waiting, practise good posture. Stand up straight, with your tummy muscles pulled in and shoulders back and down.

  • If you are standing for a very long time, stand as tall as possible and transfer weight from one leg to another to boost your circulation.

Travelling:

  • When seated, try to sit with your buttocks pushed to the back of the seat. Make sure your lower back is well supported and you are not slumped. If you are driving, ensure your position is as supported as possible and move the seat to make yourself comfortable.

  • While you are sitting, try to move your legs little and often throughout the journey to minimise the risks of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Whenever possible, get out of your seat and walk around.

Arriving at your destination:

  • Be careful when removing items from the over-head luggage compartment, as they can move during transit and you could injure yourself or another passenger.

  • Gently lower the item onto the seat below. This avoids stooping and makes it easier to either place on the floor (if the bag has wheels) or to pick it up again to carry it.

  • If you have been sitting for a prolonged period, your back may be more vulnerable to injury. You must take even more care when lifting your bags from the carousel; not only might luggage be heavy, but you are lifting it from a moving surface. Use the lifting technique above, ensuring you are in the correct position before lifting.

Holiday activities:

  • Stretch before and after doing exercise, particularly if you are doing an activity that you are not accustomed to.

Remember, if you have any unusual pain or discomfort that persists after your holiday, you should see your GP, who can refer to you to your chartered physiotherapist. Alternatively, you can visit http://www.physio2u.co.uk/ for a list of private and independent practitioners in your area

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