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Keeping your Back Healthy Over the Bank Holiday Glut


April 2011


DON’T LET BACK-TO-BACK BANK HOLIDAYS GET THE BETTER OF YOU!


- ways to keep your back healthy during the bank holiday glut –


Many in London will be rejoicing this spring with a host of Bank Holidays to look forward to including Easter, the Royal Wedding and May Day all coming in quick succession and travel agents* are already reporting a surge in demand for breaks abroad. With Brits keen to maximise the additional free time, we all need to take heed to avoid the problems that long haul travelling can have on our backs and overall posture.


New market research** commissioned by the British Chiropractic Association reveals how these concentrated periods of extensive travelling could take their toll.

The new research found that 49% of the people living in London are currently experiencing back pain, whilst 62% have suffered from back pain at some point in their lives. Add this to hours of travelling during the long bank holiday weekends and we are most definitely gearing toward being a ‘bent out of shape’ nation.


For, when it comes to travelling on planes, trains or by car, just under a third (30%) of people experience stiffness and,more worryingly, 26% of people admit to suffering from back pain.


It’s not just on planes, with their confined seating positions, where those travelling need to be careful about their posture. 56% of those surveyed said that they drove and the car is often the transport mode of choice for those travelling short, medium and even longer distances when visiting friends and relatives. In order to enjoy a more comfortable journey, it is important to adopt a good driving position, particularly as 18% admit that driving has triggered their back pain.


Rishi Loatey from the British Chiropractic Association comments: “With the back-to-back Bank Holidays this Spring, more people will be travelling which, inevitably, means longer periods of sitting down. Our bodies are not designed to be still for long periods of time and this can pose a problem when travelling; the increase in stress on the back through uncomfortable seats, or cramped conditions can lead to back pain and poor posture”.

As it is inevitable that most of us will be travelling during the Bank Holiday weekends ahead, make sure you are as prepared as possible and follow these simple pointers from the BCA (or clinic name here):

If you are flying, drink plenty of water and NOT alcohol during the flight as this will cause dehydration, which could aggravate muscle pain.

Whether travelling by plane, train or car - you will be restricted in your seat for most of the journey, but avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs (hold shrug for five seconds repeat five time), buttock clenches (hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times) and foot circles (10 clockwise and 10 anti-clockwise).

If on a train or plane, try to stand up and move around every 20-40 minutes or, when you stop for a petrol/food break on a car journey, take the opportunity to just stretch and shake out your limbs to allow your muscles to relax.

Compensate for your prolonged time of inactivity during the journey by doing light exercise – just going for a brisk 20 minute walk once you have arrived at your destination will help

The extra leisure time might also mean that you host more get-togethers with friends and family this Spring. This removes the headache of travelling, but means that you might be sitting for long periods as you catch up on the latest news, watch TV or play computer games. Again, the problem of being inactive for too long can take its toll on the back. There are simple ways to overcome this though:

- Active group games such as charades or Twister will keep you active and can be lots of fun!

- Computer games such as those on the Nintendo Wii or X-Box Kinect are also designed to keep you moving.

- Get involved in a five-a-side football match or touch rugby game in the local park.

Taking time to warm up is a good idea – these activities can be deceptively vigorous and you may strain cold or under-used muscle groups!

The British Chiropractic Association has a simple, three minute exercise routine called Straighten Up UK. This can be incorporated into your daily routine, whether at home or away and can help strengthen the spine and improve posture. The exercise routine is available to view on www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk where there is also plenty of practical advice.


*Thomas Cook has put an extra 100,000 sunshine breaks on sale to meet demand, a third more than usual (March 2011)

**BCA research of 2,000 respondents carried out in January 2011 by Onepoll.com

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