How Do I Prevent Back Pain Travelling?

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Are You On The Countdown For That Well-Earned Hoiday?

For many people a lot of saving and planning has gone into the family get away so the last thing you want is for back pain to spoil your time away. It’s not surprising that we get people asking us “How can I prevent back pain on holiday?” so we have put together a few hints and tips for back pain prevention away from home…

Before You Go:

First things first where is your suitcase?

Up in the loft in a dark and dusty corner in a hard to reach place?  If so remember for next time to make sure that it is easily accessible so that you are not having to reach and twist to get it. Particularly if it is already storing clothes and quite heavy to lift.

Use a suitcase with wheels, this will be far kinder on your back and make life a lot easier for you.

Preparation Is Key.  Make sure you start packing and prepping in plenty of time to avoid last minute stress.  Stress in itself can trigger off pain in a susceptible area.

Make a checklist of all the things you need and cross them off as each one makes it to the suitcase.  Do this a few days before your holiday so that you still have time to pop out for any last minute items.


When packing make sure your suitcase is at waist height so you are keeping any bending to a minimum.

Try packing with the suitcase on your bed, it is much easier to see and organise everything as you can spread things out in a wider area.

When lifting your case make sure you don’t twist and lift at the same time.  You need to bend from the waist keeping your back straight and use your much stronger leg muscles.  If your back is feeling vulnerable ask for help.

If you have quite a bit of hand luggage (more than keys, wallet/purse, few odds and ends) it is far better for your back to use a rucksack than an over the shoulder bag. Please do then put the rucksack on fully, not just slung over one shoulder as this defeats it’s purpose.


Getting There:

By Car 

Are you sharing the driving? If so take the time to alter the seat if needed for each of you. It may seem like a bit of wasted time in the journey but it will be well worth it to avoid the chance of an aching back when you arrive.

How long will you be travelling? Try and break the journey up so you are not driving for more than an hour at a time. This can just be a short 5-minute stop to stretch your legs. Maybe you can make the journey part of the holiday and stop to visit and attraction or two en route or stop for a picnic!

By Train/Ferry/Plane: 

Whilst you can’t change the journey time you don’t need to stay in your seat the whole time.  If it is a long journey take a wonder around every 45-minute or so. If there is a buffet area on the train why not treat yourself to a (healthy!?) snack as an excuse to stretch the legs, you can often stand at a raised bar area too.

Staying in one position for too long is a major contributor to back pain, so at the very least stand up and have a stretch once in a while.

Think about your sitting posture. The styles of seats available are often not the kindest for you back. Can you use a towel or jumper as either a sitting wedge or lumbar support to help improve the support your getting?

When You Arrive:

Don’t lift heavy suitcases and bags straight away – Your back is most fragile after you have been sitting.  Even after only 15-minutes.  Have a little walk around and a stretch before lifting anything heavy.  The longer your journey time the longer you should allow for your back to settle down and be prepared for lifting. One big cause of  back  pain when away happens whilst picking the cases up off the baggage belt at the airport!

Use the hotel lift – I know whilst we encourage you to use stairs generally over lifts or escalators to get a little exercise, this is not the best option when you have heavy luggage to take to your room. Most hotels will have a lift to access upper floors, if not and there is no porter to help, carry one bag at a time. If it’s very heavy take one bag up between two of you.

Check the bed – How are the pillows? Do you need to ask for an extra one because they are very thin? How is the mattress? If it is much harder than you are used to ask for a few extra blankets or duvet to put under the sheets to make it softer.  If it is too soft ask for help and place the mattress on the floor this should hopefully give you slightly more support.


During Your Holiday:

So now you have arrived and ready to enjoy the sunshine and some quality relaxation time.  Not wishing to sound like a party pooper it is still important to keep moving.  Sun loungers don’t give the best back support.   If you’re a fanatic reader be sure to have good support for your back. Use towels or travel back products to improve the support of the lounger or chair you are in.  Maybe intersperse lying down with changing position frequently, little strolls or a few lengths of the pool.

Be kind to yourself – if you like to get active on holiday, whether that’s swimming in the pool/sea, out on bikes or hiking; consider how much your body is used to doing back home. If you are trapped behind a desk and fairly sedentary in home life, be sure to give yourself lots of breaks and don’t go for it too much on the first day of your holiday or you may be hobbling around for the rest of it.  Build up to that long walk/cycle you have planned. You wouldn’t do 4hrs in the gym if you hadn’t been for months; the same goes for any exercise.

Stretching works on holiday too – if you take part in any exercise whilst away, be sure to do some stretches at the end. This helps your body recover and restores normal muscles length so you are like likely to feel stiff and tight in the morning.

Drink plenty of water this is always important anyway but even more so in a hot climate.  Whether you are generally being more active or relaxing by the pool and particularly because most of us tend to have a little more (dehydrating) alcohol whilst we are away.

Driving a hire car – again get to know the car seat as well as the areas you can adjust so you can change things to fit your body shape.

Glass of Water