It’s peak summer travel season – when the whole family’s attention turns to sun, surf and time away from the daily grind. But for too many of us, vacations can also bring bone, muscle and joint injuries. Here are our tips for summer fun minus the pain, as well as opportunities to keep up your good health habits from home – even a bit of holiday disease prevention.
Travel safe and let’s all be careful out there!
JOF’s Top Summer Vacation Tips
Avoiding Injury & Pain on Land and in the Air
- Keep moving: walk as much as you can. Enjoy your fabulous trip on two legs and avoid sitting whenever possible.
- Wear good, supportive shoes, especially when planning to traverse unfamiliar and uneven surfaces. Softer soles may be better when clambering over cobblestones; save the high heels for special strolls on even surfaces.
- Pace yourself – you might be tempted to bike, hike and swim like an Olympian, but remember not to overestimate your fitness level; remember vacations can be as much about rest as they are about activities.
- Watch out when lifting unwieldy baggage, especially on a plane – it’s a common source of injuries. Decide honestly if you can hoist that suitcase into the overhead bin safely and easily. If not, check it – a little extra fee today will save you pain and suffering on your holiday and beyond.
- Move during your flight to avoid DVTs (blood clots in the legs); walk around when you can and try to do easy in-seat exercises such as flexing and extending your legs and heels to keep the blood moving. Even clenching your butt muscles from time to time will help.
- Find a comfortable neck position on long flights – use a flight pillow if it helps.
- Driving instead? Gas is cheaper, which may prompt you to spend longer hours behind the wheel. Take a break every hour and walk around for even a few minutes, especially if you’re the driver (pushing pedals all the time can cause leg strain).
- Get a lumbar pillow if needed to give you the support you need on long car trips.
- Keep it at 10 and 2: Your driving instructor was right, this is actually a good position for ergonomic comfort. When it’s safe, use your car’s cruise control from time to time to give your leg muscles a break.
Eating & Nutrition
- Watch your diet – it’s tempting to jettison your healthy eating regime while on vacation, but try to stick to basic good habits, complemented by the occasional treat.
- Try to keep inflammatory foods to a minimum. These can include sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, mayonnaise and salad dressings, refined carbohydrates, aspartame and alcohol. Meanwhile, try adding anti-inflammatory foods like red and purple fruits, green tea, whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals, and beans. Check out our recent post on diet and nutrition tips.
Sun Safety & Beach Health
- Observe good sun safety. You can soak up the bone-building, vitamin-D- producing rays by getting 30 minutes a day unprotected in the morning or evening – even if it’s just by walking with sleeves rolled up. Make sure, however, that you have your sunscreen and hat on during peak sun hours – or even avoid the sun at those times – to prevent harmful exposure.
- Remember to stay hydrated. And that doesn’t mean mai tais.
- Check for scoliosis – as we reported in June, beach time is a good time to monitor your kids for signs of spinal curvature. See our recent article, “catching the curve”.
Here’s to a fun, safe and healthy vacation season – happy travels!