Physio Tips for Preventing Travel Aches and Pains

Preventing Travel Aches and Pains

Christmas holidays are nearly upon us and here at Inline Physio, we’re being asked a lot of questions about preventing and managing injuries and aches and pains while travelling.

We’ve shared plenty of suggestions with our patients over the past few weeks, so, we thought we’d outline some of our tips with you in our latest blog!

Physio Tips for Preventing Travel Aches and Pains

The anticipation of visiting new places or spending time with family members we haven’t seen in a while is what travelling is all about.

However, we often neglect to consider the actual transportation element. This is the part that can potentially affect how you enjoy your time at your destination.

Common post-holiday injuries we treat

At Inline Physio, we often see patients who experience the following conditions as a result of travel:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Achilles or Heel pain
  • Knee pain
  • Shoulder pain

So, let’s take you through ways to prevent them!

  1. Keep your hand luggage light and small

It’s best to pack as light as possible because lugging around a heavy shoulder bag or backpack can cause load on your neck and shoulders that you’re not use to.

It’s these sudden changes in load and demand on our soft tissues that trigger sensitisation, inflammation, pain, stiffness, and muscle spasm.

Also, remember to keep the backpack straps firm and the bag flat against your back. If it has a waist strap, use it! This helps to spread the load to your hips and provides extra support.


  1. Take a small lumbar support pillow 

Does your trip involve sitting in a car or on a plane for more than 2 hours? If so, giving your lumbar spine (lower back) extra support can ensure you don’t arrive at your destination with a tight, sore back.

We suggest placing a small lumbar support cushion, a rolled towel or even a roll of paper towel between the seat and your lower back. This will help to maintain your lumbar arch and ensure the load is even through your spine and the surrounding muscles.


  1. Move your body while seated

Small adjustments to posture and position can make a massive difference. Some gentle exercises you can do in your seat include:

  • Pointing and flexing your ankles firmly to get the blood pumping from your feet and release tight calves
  • Straighten your knees regularly to take pressure off your kneecaps
  • Chin tucks – gently lift your skull away from your neck, drawing your chin towards your throat. Hold for 5-10 secs and relax
  • Stretch your neck to the sides – gently pull your ear toward your shoulder
  • In a car, recline your seat and rock your knees side to side. Reclining your seat also reduces the vertical load on your spine


  1. Take regular rest breaks to move and stretch

Long periods of sitting can make anyone uncomfortable!

When on a plane, choose an aisle seat so you can get up easily every half hour or so to walk around and stretch.

The following are all great ways to break up the trip and keep your joints and soft tissue happy:

  • Gentle rotation movements,
  • Hamstring stretches,
  • Back bends and lean backs,
  • Hip flexor stretches
  • Cross your arms and rotate your upper back


  1. Take your regular sleeping pillow

A common complaint we see in the clinic is neck pain from sleeping on different pillows.

If you are prone to a bit of neck stiffness or headaches, and you have the room, take your own pillow with you. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!


Want more Holiday Tips from our Physios?

Do you have questions for our clinicians about how to achieve a pain-free holiday season, or would you like to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted physios?

You can reach our Ashgrove clinic by calling 3366 7566. Call our Moorooka on 3892 5287 or our Samford clinic on 3289 6122.