By Patrick Sheridan, Physiotherapist.
If you’re like me and have the travel bug then you know how painful it can be at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Achy feet, achy legs, a sore back from carrying that day pack everywhere; running from train to train, bouncing around in the back of a tuk-tuk, hiking along the Inca trail, shredding powder in Japan, standing in long lines at the Louvre or dancing the night away in a Bavarian beer house can certainly take its toll. No one wants these once in a lifetime experiences to be dampened by an injury, so here are 5 tips for staying injury free on holiday.
- Strengthen those feet before you go.
If you’re like me and want to see as much as you can your feet are going to take a pounding. Take the time at least 6 weeks before your holiday to strengthen them up. You really don’t want to be hobbling around with plantar fasciitis or an achilles tendinopathy half way through your trip! Here’s some advice from Australian Ballet Physiotherapist Susan Mayes. https://australianballet.com.au/behind-ballet/strength-beats-stretch
- Do a little bit of stretching everyday.
If you’ve got your strength going well then its worth getting a bit of movement into those joints, especially through your low back and hips after long flights, train or bus rides. Doing just a little bit of stretching through these areas each night or morning can make for a much more comfortable journey, and will mean you can spend much more time standing and admiring the Mona Lisa than sitting in your hotel room downing pain relief.
- Use the right gear.
Do yourself a favour, throw out those old runners, discard the backpack that’s falling apart and retire that suitcase that has the dodgy wheel. Having comfortable equipment that suits your body will make your long hauls that much easier. See a podiatrist and get some custom inserts, or a least pick up a pair of the now trendy Frankie4’s – your feet will thank you for it, and you’ll be able to spend day after day wandering to your heart’s delight through cobble streets. If you’re the more adventurous type then getting some light weight trail shoes will protect your feet nicely through all conditions and leave your feet ready for more. Having an adjustable backpack that you can secure around your waist will take the pressure off of your shoulders, and if it has a mesh back support your back will cope much better too.
- Plan some rest days.
This is the hardest one for me to follow, but it could just be the most important. Scheduling a rest day into your trip doesn’t mean you have to lie in bed and do nothing; still pop down to that lovely cafe you noticed yesterday, take a stroll along the beach or cool off at the pool, but don’t push your body every day. Just like elite athletes have their rest and recovery days you need yours when you’re racking up the kilometres every day, regardless of whether you’re on a six week European Grand Tour or on an epic trek through the Himalayas.
- Improve your balance.
Surprised? How many times a day do you stand on one leg, hold your camera out to get the right angle, ride the bump from the impolite tourist next to you, all while the floor you are on is rocking with the waves? Not many I bet, but that is probably similar to something you’ll be doing often on your overseas adventure. Improving your balance before you go can help you avoid any nasty falls, slips or trips that can result in unpleasant injuries, expensive hospital visits and unwanted early return flights home. Take the time a least six weeks before you leave to work on your balance and give your self the best chance of getting that great photo without having it all go wrong. Simple exercises like standing on one leg whilst throwing and catching a ball with a friend can work a treat.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of your holidays and as always keep active and injury free! For help putting into action your own preparation plan pop in and see one of the team at Bellarine Sports Medicine Centre. We’ll help you set some goals and give you a clear pathway to achieving them, and getting the most out of your once in a lifetime trip!