Summer is finally here and many of our patients are getting ready for their summer holidays. We have written some top tips below with regard to the potential implications of going on holidays during your physiotherapy rehabilitation:- advantages, disadvantages and how you might continue your rehabilitation to the best effect whilst you are away.
Acute injuries and holidays
Going on holiday is meant to be a relaxing time. However, holidays involve travelling and this can often be quite physical. Be sure to plan your journey and think about all the potential issues. Such as, will you be able to tolerate sitting for prolonged periods? Do you need to apply for a special upgrade of your seating on an aeroplane?
- Sitting for prolonged periods
- Carrying suitcases
- Up and down stairs (at the airport particularly)
- Running for planes, trains and taxis
Also think about getting from the airport to your hotel and planning this well in advance. Being out of your normal environment we need to consider transport, stairs, bath and showering facilities and numerous factors which might be difficult to negotiate with an injury. Be aware of any difficulties that you may have transporting luggage and the potential implications that any of this might have for you.
How to manage an acute injury whilst away
If you are unfortunate enough to injure yourself just before you are about to go away on holiday, all is not lost.
Often, in the acute phase of an injury, whilst we would not advocate full rest, being away from the daily commute and the grind of travelling to work every day can be an advantage. Being able to take relative rest, elevate the limb if necessary to reduce swelling and having absolute control over activity levels can be very useful.
Make sure that your physiotherapist gives you a well structured program of exercise and activity modification which is realistic to your holiday destination. Make sure that they are aware of your likely environment whilst you are away such as access to gym facilities. Being on holiday may mean being able to access gym more regularly than when we are at work which can be great to optimise recovery, albeit it may slightly disrupt some of your planned holiday fun.
Managing chronic injury whilst away on holiday
Most persistent chronic injury rehabilitation will involve a graded progression of exercises. Therefore, whilst you are away, it is important not to completely ditch your rehabilitation (although it is good for the body to have a chance to rest and recuperate sometimes). Again ensure your physiotherapist gives you clear structure to your planned rehab regime whilst away. If you have been doing your rehabilitation in a gym and you will not have access to these facilities whilst away, it is important that your physiotherapist can redesign some exercises. You may have to use body weights or possibly a resistance band so that you can continue your rehabilitation whilst you are away.
Activities whilst on holiday
It is increasingly popular for us to indulge in unusual, and sometimes quite extreme, sports while on holiday. Be aware of the fact that these can potentially exacerbate your injury. Also, we potentially partake in activities without any preparation, again, this can be a potential precursor for injury. Especially if you have done no preparation work and attempt either a very big hike or some very strenuous water activity.
A lot of people come back from holiday with injuries.
In order to prevent this, we would suggest considering carefully any pre-existing problems you have had. Consider very carefully what the activity that you are participating in entails compared with your usual levels of fitness and activity. Are there any particular movements that you find particularly difficult?
In summary, holidays can provide an opportunity for some much needed rest. However, consider your journey to and from. Also, consider any planned activities whilst you are away. It is always wise to plan in advance access to medical services, particularly if you are travelling with an injury. Look carefully at your medical insurance to make sure you are covered if you have a flare up of your injury whilst you are away. Remember also that the biggest risk of an injury is already having an injury and, therefore, if you are travelling abroad with an injury, unfortunately, statistically you are more likely to injure another body part whilst you are away.
Be prepared, plan ahead and ultimately try to enjoy your holiday without any mishaps.