Avoiding ‘holiday ailments’ this summer

Every summer, we typically find ourselves treating ‘Holiday Injuries’ at one2one – which we are of course happy to help with.

However, prevention is better than cure, so before you head off to the airport, here’s some of the most common reasons we see more summer injuries and what you can do to prevent them:

1. Inappropriate Footwear – Flip flops, high heels & Sandals.

Remember that your feet may swell when travelling on an aircraft, so it’s a good idea NOT to wear brand new ‘holiday shoes’ which can rub and cause blisters. However, this is not a problem most physios have to see clients with.

A far bigger problem is injuries to the foot, ankle and calf, caused by non-supportive footwear.

The problem is that most people spend their working days wearing supportive shoes. These are traded in for flip flops and sandals whilst on holidays which don’t have proper arch support and cushioning to protect the feet. This lack of support puts you at risk of injuring your heels, balls of your feet, the Achilles’ tendon and calf muscle. The Achilles’ tendon and calf muscle are more prone to injury if they are already shortened by regularly wearing heels.   

To prevent these injuries from occurring, choose summer shoes with an arch support and more cushioning.

If your calf muscles are tight, try stretching them daily for a couple of weeks before your holiday. This will improve the length of the muscles so they can tolerate a flatter shoe. Alternatively, attending regular yoga and pilates classes will help improve your overall flexibility and prevent your calf muscles from shortening in the first place.

Another source of injury is overly high heels, especially if you are not used to wearing them.  Apart from pushing the back into an unfamiliar position, they create instability and the heel can get caught in pavement cracks.

A slip and trip on steep stone stairs or a stroll up a cobbled mediterranean hill will at best give you sore feet and at worst ruin your holiday – so keep glamour for dinner and dress comfortably for exploring.

To learn more about our Bridgend yoga and pilates classes, visit our website:


2. Lifting/carrying heavy luggage

Yay!  Your airline is one of the better ones that lets you take 23k.
However, your back won’t be celebrating. Lifting a 23kg suitcase on and off the conveyor belt at the airport or pushing/pulling luggage on those trolleys is bound to put a lot of strain on your back, shoulders and arms especially when you’re not used to it.

Most people these days are desk bound in their jobs so won’t experience heavy lifting in their day to day lives. When your body is not conditioned to do this, the extra load and strain can cause musculoskeletal injuries. 

Making your suitcase as light as possible is a good starting point – do you really need to max out that allowance with 10 pairs of shoes?  Think about what you will REALLY wear and leave out the ‘just in case’.  Comfort is everything.

When travelling, pay close attention to your posture when lifting luggage. Where possible use both hands to lift your suitcase to distribute the weight equally through both upper limbs. Your suitcase has wheels, so don’t carry it for longer than you have to – and try not to twist your back when lifting, move your feet instead. 

 If you’re not very active, try going to the gym, joining a pilates or strength and conditioning class to improve your core & muscle strength so your body is in good condition for lifting heavy weights. Your body will thank you, even if you aren’t going on holiday. 

3. Sitting on the train, coach or plane 

Prolonged sitting on an aeroplane or coach can mean you are in a confined space with limited leg room.

This can cause back and knee pain – and if it’s accompanied by repeated turning of the head to one side to talk to your friends and relatives, this can also cause neck pain. 

To avoid these injuries, when possible try to get up and move around when it’s safe to do so, and have a stretch – remembering to stretch your neck too. 

4. Lying on the sun lounger 

Granted, sun-lounger-itis doesn’t sound like a medical condition you would object to getting, but actually lying on your front on the sun lounger can cause lower back pain if you lack flexibility in your lumbar spine.

When we sit all day especially with poor posture, our lower back can become very stiff especially into extension (bending backwards).

When you lie on your front on a sun lounger, your lower back is forced into extension, a position it’s not used to, and this can give you pain. 

To prevent this, take an extra towel to roll up and position under your tummy whilst lying on your front to flatten your lumbar spine. It’s also a good idea to move and change positions regularly to mobilise your back. 

Again, regular exercise is your friend here. Pilates and Yoga classes are perfect to mobilise your spine and improve your flexibility so these positions are not uncomfortable or a strain on your back. 

5. Increased activity and less self-care.

From bungee jumping to rock climbing, from adventurous fairground rides to drunken dares, it stands to reason that after a few drinks or in a new environment, you may be tempted to push your boundaries and try something new – and indeed, you should go for it – provided you work within your body’s limits and above all stay safe.  The problem comes when our judgement gets clouded by excitement or a few drinks.

When doing something new or unfamiliar, keep your wits about you and exercise a little caution before you decide to leapfrog over a bollard or start doing handstands against the nearest wall.  The pain from a muskuloskeletal injury or worse, broken limb, will long outweigh the laughter you had before starting it.

6. Activity Holidays

There is an increasing trend towards activity holidays, like canoeing or biking.  These adventure tours are great, and being active is a good thing, but if you are normally inactive and plan to increase your activity levels on holiday, whether in the UK or abroad, work up to it and try to get some gentle training sessions in before you go.
The same applies even if you are staying in the UK.  Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you don’t need to take precautions.

Plan ahead if you want to go on a trek in unfamiliar territory, by prepping your body, wearing the right clothes and taking the right equipment.  On beaches, check tide times before climbing across rocks or heading into caves, on mountains check the weather forecast and check for any warnings from Mountain Rescue.  If taking to the water, follow lifeguard’s water safety instructions – they are there for a reason.

Every Mountain Rescue and Lifeguard has tales of travellers who have climbed a peak or strode across rocks in inappropriate footwear, injured themselves and needed rescue. Needless to say, they aren’t held in much affection when there are enough risks that see even properly prepared climbers fall victim occasionally.

It’s not only your health that you risk. so if doing a new activity, minimise the risks by wearing the right gear and gently increasing your activity levels over a few weeks to prepare your body before attempting to rock climb or deciding to tackle the nearest peak. Then, listen to your body, keep well hydrated and stop and turn around if you need to.  Your summit goal will be there another day, if you keep yourself injury free.  An injury will probably mean your holiday, and possibly your entire season, is over.

No matter how you spend your leisure time this summer, we hope you enjoy it, injury free – and if all else fails, and you do get an injury, remember we’re always here to help.