Fit for summer travel

Travel Talk

An exercise and rehabilitation specialist, Gina John suggests how to make your journeys more comfortable, so you arrive feeling fit and rested. 

Gina John has worked in exercise and rehabilitation for over 20 years. A Pilates Practitioner and Registered Osteopath, she founded The Osprey Clinic, which specialises in exercise and rehabilitation programmes,  for the over 50s and individuals requiring tailored fitness and rehabilitation.

Gina is pleased to offer Silver Travel Advisor customers help and advice with a quarterly column, looking at how to prepare for travel and how to stay fit and mobile, while away from home.  Also, Gina offers tips on how to deal with aches and pains while travelling, including a focus on seasonal travel problems.

With Summer just around the corner, most of us are making plans to get out and about in the UK, or travel to more exotic climes.  As we look forward to increased outdoor activities, concerns about any physical limitations are common. With the sudden demand on the low back, buttock, hips and leg muscles and feet, the body is likely to complain by the end of the first day’s excursion.  So, what can you do to minimise any inconvenience while on holiday?

Get into shape before you go!

Just by performing a few simple strengthening and stretching exercise each day, in the few weeks before you set off, you will feel fitter and more energetic, and get the most out of your holiday.

Spine Curl A spine curl exercise helps to improve the strength and flexibility of your back, hip and leg muscles. Lie down with your knees bent and your feet, hip-joint width apart. Scoop the navel towards your spine to contract your abdominal muscles. Squeeze your buttocks to lift up to a bridge position. Take an in-breath, holding the position and exhale while you lower the body, back to the floor.

Try to wheel or curl your spine up and back to the floor, vertebra by vertebra. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times daily.

To stretch the buttock and hip area, place the right ankle across your left knee and pull up your right ankle towards your chest. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds. Repeat to the left hip and buttock. Always discontinue exercising, if you feel pain.

Are you foot fit?

Although most people don’t put much thought into exercise preparation for walking, in the way that athletes prepares for an event, improving your foot strength and flexibility ahead of your holiday with some daily exercises, will help you to cope with the increased workload and avoid muscle and joint pains as well as injuries.  These two exercises will help to get your feet and ankles into great shape.

Marching feet

Toe scrunching and marching feet Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Roll through the feet, rising up onto the ball of the left foot, while pressing into the heel of the right foot. Then roll through the feet, rising onto the ball of the right foot, while pressing into the heel of the left foot. Repeat up to 30 times.

Toe scrunching

Sit in a chair and place the end of a scarf under one foot at a time, and scrunch up your toes, to gather up the scarf.

Foot arches

If planning to go on walks, it is important to check that your walking shoes have adequate arch support. This prevents the ankles, knees and hips from rolling inwards and reduces the risk of straining your feet and ankles, as well as your knees, hips and low back.

Cool by the pool!

Particularly if you suffer from arthritis or pain in the low back, hips, knees or ankles and feet, these joints may start complaining, with just a few trips from the pool to the bar, in bare feet!  So, check that your poolside or beach sandals have some degree of arch support. FitFlop, Birkenstock and Scholl’s sandals offer good support and are available in larger local pharmacies, department stores and on line.

Dealing with aches & pains

Even with careful preparation for your holiday, a few aches and pains may occur from simply increasing your activity level. And, it’s possible to suffer a strain from simply slipping on a stony beach. Buttock/hip Stretch In the first 72 hours after a strain, avoid applying heat to the painful area. Rest and apply an ice pack or anti-inflammatory gel every 3-4 hours until any swelling subsides.  It’s best to pack a tube of gel such as Ibuprofen Gel or Biofreeze, as these may be difficult or expensive to source locally, especially while abroad.

Move the joint gently within a pain free range and gently stretch the area.  Bandaging a sprained joint or muscle is useful in reducing swelling initially, and in providing extra support while building up your activity levels again.

Gina John on the radio

Listen to Gina talking to Silver Travel Advisor about how to keep active when travelling. 

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