Common travel mistake ‘increases chances of injury’ when flying – avoid ‘miserable trip’

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Catherine Quinn, Chiropractor and President of the British Chiropractic Association, explained: “We tend to be out of our usual routine when on holiday; just picking up a suitcase in the wrong way or lying on a sun lounger in an awkward position can result in pain. These issues can potentially be avoided and, in doing so, make the difference between a break of a lifetime or a miserable trip, so be aware of some simple steps you can take, particularly at the start of your holiday.”

Suitcase selection

Catherine recommended “choosing wisely and buying the lightest case possible that has wheels”.

“Most hard cases can weigh a lot, even with nothing in them.”

Two cases are better than one

“If possible, take two light suitcases rather than one so you can distribute the weight more evenly.

“If using soft bags, make sure they have a long shoulder strap as this will enable you to wear the bag across your body and more evenly distribute the weight of the bag,” she said.

Push, don’t pull

The expert explained: “Many wheeled bags encourage you to pull them from behind, but this makes the upper body/back twist. Try instead to push the case in front of you.”

Get a good night’s sleep

Catherine warned that “travelling when tired increases your chances of injury, so make sure you sleep well the night before a flight and avoid rushing around”.

Flying high

While flying the expert advised “drinking plenty of water or juice during the flight”.

“Avoid alcohol as this can cause dehydration which, in turn, could aggravate muscle pain.”


She continued: “You will be restricted to your seat for most of the flight, but avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles.

“Do the same if you are travelling by train. Whenever you get the opportunity, get up and move around.”

Avoid ‘travelators’

While at the airport, “get your joints moving quickly after a flight by walking through the terminal rather than opting for the easy option of a moving walkway”.

Round and round

Catherine said: “Ensure your bag is easily identifiable (e.g. knot a ribbon around the handle) to avoid lifting other people’s heavy cases off the carousel in error.”

Steer clear of trolleys

She warned that unless the travellers’ suitcases don’t have wheels of their own, passengers should avoid airport trolleys.

This is because “wonky wheels are common and you could hurt your back trying to correct a wayward trolley,” she said.

Catherine also shared a few tips to make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable when travellers get to the hotel.

She explained: “If your bed is too hard ask the hotel staff for a spare duvet or blanket to put between you and the mattress. Firm beds are not always best, but it is easier to soften a hard bed than make a soft bed harder. The same with pillows.

“Check the pillow(s) on your bed allow your head to stay in alignment with rest of your body and mould to the shape of your head and neck. Ask to change pillows if you are not happy. Many people take their own pillow away with them, although this is not always practical.

“If you’re heading to the sun loungers, try not to lie on your tummy with your back and neck arched back when reading your book or magazine. Put the reading matter on the floor, so that you can view it over the edge of the sun bed; this should allow you to keep your head and neck in a more neutral position,” she said.

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