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7 tips to prevent back pain from ruining your holiday

by Jane Hodgson 17 July 2009


The holiday season is thankfully upon us, but each year many holidays are ruined by back pain. Minimise your risk by following our simple tips:

1. Pack light

  • The less you pack the less you have to lift every time you shift your luggage.

2 Don't lift unless you have to

  • use a wheeled suitcase instead of a holdall or normal suitcase. Use baggage trolleys where possible, both in the airport and if staying at a hotel.

3. Watch how you lift

  • plan what you are going to do. Think about what you are lifting, where you are moving it to and how you are going to do it
  • bend your knees not your back
  • keep whatever you are lifting close into you. The further out from you it is the greater the leverage effect
  • the worst thing you can do is lift with a bent back and then twist.
  • take as much care putting it down as you did picking it up

4.Carry your luggage as short a distance as possible

  • At the airport use baggage trolleys. Make sure you go with some change for the coin operated trolleys
  • If parking off site and getting a shuttle bus to the airport how about dropping off one member of the party with all the luggage at the airport terminal before going off to park. That way you haven't got to lift all the luggage onto and off the shuttle bus.
  • If going by car think about getting your car to the best place possible before loading and unloading.

5. Take frequent breaks

  • Whether travelling in a plane or in a car sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time is not good for the spine. When on a plane get up and move as often as is practicable, do some stretches. Try standing with your hands on your hips and arch your back backwards.
  • When doing a long journey by car take a short break every hour, get out of the car do a few stretches and have a walk round for a couple of minutes. Think about your sitting position in the car, you may need to add or adjust you lumbar support. Don't sit on anything in your back pocket such as your wallet as this causes a side bend at the spine.

7. Think about what you carry during the day

  • You can end up carrying quite a lot with you when you go out for the day sightseeing or to the beach: camera, water, suncream, insect  repellant and so on. The weight you are carrying quickly adds up. A small rucksack carried on both shoulders is better for your spine than a bag carried in one hand or slung over one shoulder.


Disclaimer: The information on this page is written to help you understand your injury. There are many possible causes for pain and should you have any concerns you should always seek advice from a qualified health professional such as a Chartered Physiotherapist or your GP.

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About the author

Jane Hodgson - Chartered Physiotherapist Jane Hodgson Jane specialises in lower body injuries and has raced competitively in running, orienteering and adventure racing.

Did you know

Frequent breaks and changes of position are important when travelling to prevent back ache

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