Hopefully you are planing on taking a much-needed summer vacation in the next few weeks. From seeing family and friends; to doing new things, exploring new places; to taking a break from work and everyday routines--taking a vacation can be great for your soul and overall health.
Traveling, however, can also pose a number of potential health hazards. A big one is sitting for prolonged periods of time in awkward, cramped spaces in a car or on a plane. Others are standing in lines at airports and car rental areas, lifting heavy luggage, and dehydration from not drinking enough water.
Many seemingly harmless activities from travel can also increase stress on the joints, resulting in pain and discomfort. One of the most serious consequences is that prolonged periods of travel can increase the risk of suffering from a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis), which may result in a serious issue if the blood clot breaks off and travels to the lung, resulting in a pulmonary embolism.
The good news is that by following some simple summer travel tips, you can minimize the risk of suffering an injury, so that you can fully enjoy your summer vacation.
1 – Lift Luggage Properly
The first step to safe travel is to pack as light as possible; this will help to minimize the weight that you are required to lift when transporting your luggage. You might want to also consider cheking certain bags. When walking with luggage, use a cart whenever possible to avoid carrying weight unnecessarily. When lifting luggage, use proper lifting techniques, includng carrying luggage as close to your body as possible and lifting with your legs as opposed to your back and avoiding twisting movements.
2 – Mind Your Posture
Whether sitting in your car or on an airplane, be mindful of your posture. Think about sitting tall with a lifted chest, relaxed shoulders and tucked and level chin. Adjust your seat to maximize comfort by positioning it to ensure that your back is supported and legs are relaxed, and use a back support if necessary.
3 – Take Breaks
If you’re driving, make frequent stops to get out of your car and stretch your legs and back. If you’re on an airplane, especially during a long flight, get out of your seat often and walk up and down the aisle. And, when you are seated on an airplane, pump your ankles up and down to get blood flowing in them.
4 – Know the Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of DVT and PE can help to ensure timely medical intervention, which can help to reduce the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms of DVT include: swelling, unexplained pain or tenderness, skin warmth and redness in the affected extremity. DVT occurs most frequently in the lower leg and can feel like a calf muscle cramp initially. Not all patients with PE will have signs and symptoms of DVT. The most common signs and symptoms of PE include: breathing difficulty, irregular or fast heartbeat, chest discomfort or pain that is often worsened with deep breathing or coughing, anxiety, coughing blood, fainting or a feeling of light-headedness.
If a current or previous injury is preventing you from taking a relaxing summer vacation, you may benefit from physical therapy, which often involves therapeutic massage, manual therapy, and muscle stimulation techniques, as well as learning how to perform stretching and strength training exercises correctly. A physical therapist typically guides the sessions in order to monitor your progress and ensure progression towards optimal healing.
Undergoing a comprehensive physical examination by our physical therapists is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of how you can improve your optimal health. After your assessment, we will create an individualized program that can help to improve your recovery time, and provide you with increased health benefits.
Contact us at 978-452-9252 to learn more.
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4. O'Donovan K, Bajd T, Grace P, O'Keeffe D, Lyons G. Preliminary Evaluation of Recommended Airline Exercises for Optimal Calf Muscle Pump Activity. EJVES Extra. 2006;12(1):1-5. doi:10.1016/j.ejvsextra.2006.04.001.