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Have you returned to work with ‘holiday back’?

Many people come back from holiday feeling worse than when they left, because they have developed back pain.
The biggest culprits are sleeping in different beds and over-exercising.
Sleeping in a bad bed can cause issues such as low back pain, upper spinal discomfort, neck strains and even headaches. A different pillow can also cause these problems.
Running on the beach is the other big issue. Even regular runners develop problems due to poor footwear support and running too far.
If you have holiday back pain, try the following (if the pain is debilitating or not improving then it’s best to seek out physio treatment):

 

So how can you lessen your chances of picking up a ‘holiday back’ in the first place?

 

1. Mobility: Back pain can make you feel seized up and stop you moving. But mobility is the single most important thing for beating back pain.
Be careful not to sit down for too long at a time. Get up at least once an hour. Ensure you do some walking on holiday and generally maintain a good degree of mobility.
2. The 20% rule: Holidays allow more exercise time, tempting us to over-do it and leading to injury. But it’s best to restrict that exercise to only 20 per cent extra on what your body is used to.
It’s ok to do extra exercise, but the body responds to gradual change, such as the 20 per cent rule.
3. Realistic New Year’s resolutions: People often set the bar too high on New Year’s resolutions, which means the resolution either ends up abandoned or causing injury. Fitness resolutions should be realistic, such as considering a three minute high intensity training regime. Anyone can do these exercises at their own level and it will make a positive difference.
4. Keep the beach running casual: Beach running can be one of the joys of summer, but needs to be moderate. Running bare feet on sand is hard on the body, and we see ailments caused by beach running every year. Take it easy and save your serious running for good running tracks and proper footwear.
5. Get a second opinion if treatment isn’t working: The last thing we need is holiday injuries to trouble us into March and April. If a back problem isn’t showing improvement within three physio treatments it’s time for a second opinion.

 

Kusal Goonewardena
Elite Athlete Sports Physiotherapist
Melbourne University Olympic and Winter Olympic Team

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