Top Tips For Pain-Free Travelling

Many of us will need to travel for extended periods of time both through work and for leisure. The following advice might be of interest if travel is part of your life.

Travelling might be a well practiced routine. It may be more exciting and present an opportunity for new experiences. Maybe at times you travel to seek out rest and recovery from the regular day-to-day. It is potentially a treasured time, but occasionally this is accompanied by some common pitfalls that can lead to pain. So aim to keep it comfortable.

Taking an extended journey might mean we have to carry out physical activity that we are not regularly used to. However, very often it is the lack of activity that is the issue. A survey conducted by the British Chiropractic Association found that 48% of British holidaymakers experienced back and/or neck pain on their travels. In the clinic I am visited frequently by people who present with pain associated with the changes in lifestyle related to travel – different beds, sporting activities, lifting luggage, sitting for long periods…

If you’re heading-off anywhere. The following might be worth considering in support of a comfortable experience:

  • Firstly get organised. Pack and prepare in advance to reduce the stress of a last-minute rush which will inevitably affect your body and how you feel. Try and pack as light as possible, reducing the potential strain of carrying heavy bags and luggage around. Rucksacks are better to distribute the weight more evenly across the body.
  • If using a suitcase, one with wheels is better. It is less strain on the spine to push the case, as opposed to pulling and twisting to move it.
  • If you’re having to lift luggage onto conveyer-belts or into vehicles. Try and lift from the knees if possible, positioning the luggage straight ahead of you and holding it as close to the body as possible.
  • Consider footwear, you may have to stand in queues or walk long distances. Be comfortable and aim for a more supportive style of shoe.
  • When in transit – move regularly. There are clearly restrictions on this, but do what you can. Make regular stops if travelling by road, or try and get up regularly on a plane or other transport where possible. You could also choose to practice regular mobility whilst seated – ankle circles, heel raises, bottom squeezes, gentle spinal rotation, shoulder circles… This is all positive movement.
  • When needing to sit for a longer period, aim to position yourself as well as possible. Try and be upright with your feet flat on the floor. Aim to have your knees level with your hips. Sitting on a cushion might help if necessary, or could be used to support the spine.

Another common issue is sleeping in a different bed with a change in pillow support. If it’s feasible, take your trusted pillow away with you. If you lay on your side, a pillow or a folded towel between your knees may support you in a more aligned position. If laying on your back, a pillow under your thighs should help place your spine in an easier place. Laying on your front isn’t an ideal option for the spine. If this is the only way you can settle. A pillow under the tummy can help ease some of the stress from the back.

If you’re heading off on a “fly and flop” kind of break. You will inevitably be spending more time sitting or laying down relaxing. You may find you feel more uncomfortable due to lack of movement. You could consider similar support when laid down (as in sleeping positioning.) Or aim to sit well as previously described. In either case, try and move regularly.

Eat well and stay hydrated to help and ensure that everything in your body works optimally. Keep moving! (Have I said that already?!) A possible solution to stiffening up too much is practicing some daily mobility exercises to try and balance out any extended periods of inactivity. Or get involved with the aqua aerobics classes in the pool, the yoga sessions… or if it has one use the hotel gym.

I hope your travels are successful. If you need any help please get in touch. Happy travelling 😎

Love yourself – embrace self-care ❤️

Taking care of oneself should always be a top priority. It isn’t the only priority in life for sure, but it’s an important factor if we want to better manage general wellbeing and support our longer term health.

Even before the pandemic the UK population was living longer but unfortunately in poorer health. A direct quote from the UK’s Health Foundation Report 2022. “Smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and harmful alcohol use are leading risk factors, driving the U.K.’s high burden of preventable, ill health, and premature mortality. All are socio-economically patterned and contribute significantly to widening health inequalities.”

The “top” conditions viewed as Western world/lifestyle related problems are; diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, some cancers and stroke.

It’s common for people to neglect self-care activities or feel guilty when they do make time for them. However, self-care is crucial for overall wellbeing. Whether it’s dedicating time to socialising, relaxing, exercising, preparing a nutritious meal, or seeking assistance from a trusted osteopath for any musculoskeletal health concerns. Self-care encompasses a range of valuable activities.

Have a think about the small changes you could make in the coming weeks to do the best you can to support long-term health. Maybe challenge yourself with a new activity. It can empower you and enhance your resilience in life. Just spending time in nature stimulates all our senses, and has been demonstrated to improve our neural health, and reduce the likelihood of dementia.

Remember to prioritise your own self-care and make time for activities that nurture your physical and mental health. If your muscles and joints need support, please get in touch for assistance.

Upper back pain and advice to reduce the strain of coughs and colds

The upper back is a common area for pain and discomfort. The upper back, or thoracic spine, is by its very nature the less mobile part of our spines. It is surrounded by a rib cage and has a role as part of a protective structure around our vital organs.

Pain in this area can occur in anybody, but it is common in children and adolescents, and more so in females. Often in younger people the problems relate to the use of backpacks, and the weight of the backpack. It might be related to sports activities. The seating at school can be problematic. Issues can also arise in relation to emotional stress and anxiety.

All of the above can be relevant in adults too. Often being seated at a desk all day is troublesome, or any prolonged slumped postures.

Common reasons for upper back pain are:

  • Trauma or injury. Trauma may be actions such as coughing and sneezing.
  • Strain/poor posture over time.
  • Shingles.
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
  • Rib injuries.
  • Muscular/soft tissue injuries.
  • Inflammation, degeneration, infections, metastases to the spine.
  • Sometimes pain in this area may be related to primary conditions, such as osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, and Scheuermann’s disease.

A problem with the positioning and mobility of the upper back could also have consequences for adjacent areas of the body that are mechanically linked. Very often problems in the shoulders and neck will occur alongside upper back issues.

Osteopathy takes a holistic approach and considers your general health and overall mechanics when tackling any issue.

Osteopathy can help mechanical problems by working directly into the area, and offer advice about self-care. It could also serve a supportive role alongside some chronic respiratory problems and primary conditions (such as those detailed above) to support well-being as well as providing pain relief.

We are now in the season of coughs and colds. These can cause problems, or can be incredibly difficult to manage if you are in pain. The following are a few tips that could help you avoid or manage issues:

  • If you have a cough or feel a sneeze coming on. Try and stay in a neutral position in your spine. Don’t bend forward or twist if possible.
  • You could place your hands on a table/surface ahead of you to brace yourself.
  • Standing against a wall with a pillow behind your back can reduce the impact.
  • Hugging a cushion to your chest can also reduce the “trauma” of a cough or sneeze.

Healing Is A Process

Healing is a process. It will have similar parameters for everybody, but there will inevitably be some variation from person to person. The nature and extent of an injury will also dictate the length of the healing process.

Osteopathy and laser treatment optimise your body’s natural biological reactions. In osteopathy, it is mechanical pressure, in laser, it is light energy that influences the body cells to produce the cellular products necessary for healing to take place. Both osteopathy and laser complement one another. The work produces good tissue length and tissue fibre alignment with as little or as good quality scar tissue as possible. Evidence also suggests that greater benefit will occur if these treatments are used alongside appropriate exercise prescription.

The following are the stages of tissue repair. In reality they will likely blend into one another as opposed to being isolated events:

Bleeding. All tissues will bleed with injury to a varying degree, on average for 4-6 hours. This is not the time to receive manual therapy, but could be a good time to apply an ice pack for no longer than 10 minutes.

The second phase is inflammation. This starts approximately one hour after the injury. The inflammatory process starts and reaches a peak over 1 to 3 days. However it can be quite normal for it to continue for a few weeks beyond an injury, inflammation is necessary to bring the products needed into the area for repair.

Inflammation gets tissues ready for mending – the proliferation phase. This can actually start quickly beyond an injury, but may continue for up to 6 months.

Finally the injury will enter the remodelling phase. The basic scar tissue formed in the proliferation phase is refined here. This process could still be continuing over 1-2 years. Despite people hopefully being able to return to more normal activity in the meantime.

Osteopathy and laser therapy will help guide these processes. This is one of the reasons why it is important to complete your course of treatment.

Optimise your sleep – boost energy, improve mood, reduce pain

Being able to get an optimal amount of sleep is so important to all aspects of our health. Many would regard this as the cornerstone of our well-being. Reduced sleep and reduced quality of sleep is a factor in many health problems, including heart disease, stroke and dementia. Sleep is necessary for repair. For the brain, immune system, blood vessels….everything!

Everyone is different but it is believed that all adults need at least 7 hours sleep a night.

Discomfort or body pain can make it tricky to settle to sleep, or wake you from your sleep. Sometimes moving around in bed is challenging. People can find themselves moving in bed in a very robotic manner. Waking early due to the need to get up and move for relief may also pose an issue.

There are so many factors that contribute to a good night’s sleep. Consider the following to aid your restful night:

  • Have a routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time.
  • Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime. Exercising outside is useful.
  • Avoid stimulants close to your bedtime eg. Caffeine and nicotine.
  • Avoid alcohol or a large meal close to your bedtime.
  • Develop a relaxing routine leading up to sleeping – a bath, reading… limit or avoid electronics in the bedroom or their use before bed.
  • Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet and a cool temperature. If your phone is with you, silence it.

Sleep myths

  • It isn’t true you need less sleep as you get older.
  • You can’t catch up on your sleep.

Sometimes a specific sleep disorder may need to be addressed. Consider a consultation with your GP if you think this may be the case.

If you’re struggling to get physically comfortable in bed I can help. I can assist you in resolving your pain or helping you to manage it. Sometimes looking at your pillows and mattress, or the position you sleep in may need to be addressed or supported more effectively.

Rest well and take care 😴



Would You Benefit From An MOT?

We pay regular attention to our cars, but would you benefit from an osteopathic MOT? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, help and advice could benefit you.
  • Do you struggle to bend over to tie your shoelaces?
  • Do you find it difficult to look around to reverse your car?
  • Can it be tricky when driving/cycling/crossing a road, to look comfortably to the left and right?
  • Is it a strain to reach your car seatbelt easily?
  • Is it hard to stand up straight?
  • Do you have problems sitting comfortably? – Is it challenging to get up from sitting with ease?
  • Is it difficult to lay comfortably in bed?

These are obviously just a sample of the activities normal to many of us in our day-to-day lives. We take them for granted often, when our ability to do them diminishes it can be painful, uncomfortable and very frustrating.

Osteopathic treatment could help you. Examination to assess the problem, treatment to address the issues and improve function, and advice on how you could adapt, maintain and manage any ongoing challenges.

Get in touch to book your MOT. If booking online please select an “Initial or Re-examination” appointment.

Three Areas You Could Look At Today For Positive Change

Here are three things you could choose to implement now, and/or over the coming week. They don’t have to cost you anything and they all support your musculoskeletal well-being.

1. Stretching and flexibility exercises: Engaging in regular stretching routines can help improve your flexibility and maintain good muscle and joint health. Consider incorporating simple stretches into your daily routine, focusing on areas like the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. Remember to stretch gently and avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort.

2. Proper posture and ergonomic setup: Maintaining good posture is crucial to prevent musculoskeletal issues. Whether you’re sitting or standing, try to keep your spine aligned, shoulders relaxed, and avoid slouching. Additionally, ensure that your workspace is ergonomically set up, with a comfortable chair, proper desk height, and adequate support for your back and wrists.

3. Regular physical activity: Engaging in regular physical activity not only benefits your cardiovascular health but also supports your musculoskeletal system. Activities like walking, jogging, swimming, or strength training can help strengthen muscles, enhance bone density, and improve joint flexibility. Find activities you enjoy and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Remember, these are just general suggestions. If you do need more assistance with any of the above, please get in touch. Invest in your well-being.


Try Mindfulness To Support Your Nervous System And Help Manage Pain

A Simple Mindfulness Exercise To Try

Set a few minutes aside, find a comfortable and safe place to be. Close your eyes, or just try not to focus on anything.

Turn your attention slowly and deliberately to each part of your body. Focus on your body in order, from toe to head or head to toe.

Become aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body. If you notice pain or uncomfortable feelings, acknowledge them, and gently try and breathe through them, try to relax this area.

This exercise, although simple in its nature, doesn’t always feel easy or possible. Try it regularly for a while, it does get easier.






Your Holiday – Avoiding Back Pain

Fellow travellers pay attention. As many of us prepare for our long-awaited summer getaways, it’s important to take a moment to consider the impact of travel on our bodies, particularly our backs.

Travel often involves long periods of sitting or standing, carrying heavy luggage, and sleeping in unfamiliar beds. These factors can all contribute to back pain and discomfort, which can put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable holiday.

So, what can we do to prevent and alleviate back pain while traveling? Here are a few tips:

1. Pack light: Only bring the essentials and try to distribute the weight evenly between your bags. Consider using a backpack instead of a suitcase to evenly distribute weight on both shoulders.

2. Stretch: Take breaks during long flights or car rides to move around and stretch. Simple stretches like touching your toes or rolling your shoulders can help prevent stiffness and pain.

3. Invest in supportive travel gear: Consider investing in a neck pillow or lumbar support cushion for your seat on the plane or car. These items can help maintain proper posture and reduce strain on your back.

4. Choose accommodations wisely: When booking a hotel or accommodation, consider the quality of the mattress and pillows. A comfortable bed can make a big difference in preventing back pain.

Stay well!

Laser Therapy – Can Be Used Alone Or Alongside Osteopathic Treatment

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that uses low-power light to stimulate healing and reduce pain. It’s a safe and effective alternative to traditional pain management techniques, such as medication and surgery.

LLLT has been shown to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and accelerate tissue repair. It’s commonly used to treat conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and sports injuries.

One of the best things about LLLT is that it’s painless and has no known side effects. It’s also a quick and easy treatment that can be done in just a few minutes.

If you’re looking for an effective and natural way to manage your pain, LLLT may be the solution you’ve been searching for. It’s a safe and non-invasive treatment that can improve your quality of life and help you get back to doing the things you love.


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