Full disclosure – this article is not about how to get your body (read: liver) ready for an inordinate number of margaritas. If that’s what you’re looking for then we suggest that you reference your current frat/sorority manual. Instead, this goes out to the numerous individuals, couples, and family households out there who are planning their spring break vacations and want to get their bodies ready. The goal is to travel in physical comfort while being able to partake in the wide variety of destination activities and adventures without feeling aches and pains or falling prey to injury. The latter is especially important given the cost of international medical assistance, should your insurance provider seek to escape responsibility for claims. So without further ado, read below before bidding adieu for spring break.
5 Practical Ways to Physically Prepare for Your Spring Break Vacation
1. Prepare Your Lower Back for Long Flights or Drives
Everyone looks forward to their vacation destination but many fear the process of getting there because long flights and drives can equate significant lower back pain and discomfort. You will need to apply proper seating posture, perform a number exercises and movements prior to boarding, and consider purchasing back support travel gear such as a lumbar support pillow or orthopedic wedge cushion. We’ve put together your physical therapy flight plan, right here along with our guide for how to protect your back while traveling.
2. Train for Specific Spring Break Activities
Whether you’re off to Whistler, Miami, Hawaii, or the Caribbean (etc.) there’s a good chance that you have an agenda with activities in mind. Enjoyment of each activity can be hampered by poor body function and subsequent injury, so you want to set the table for success prior to arrival. We have already compiled a list of many common vacation activities and how to prepare your body for each. Simply visit the link to those that apply to your itinerary and you’ll be set to perform and avoid injury:
- How to prepare your body for bike riding
- How to prepare your body for swimming
- How to prepare your body for stand up paddle-boarding
- How to prepare your body for kayaking
- How to prepare your body for surfing
- Getting tennis ready
- Guide to barefoot beach running
- How to become a better hiker
- Reduce foot pain while skiing or snowboarding
3. Get Some Exercise Every Day Before Your Trip
Whether you find this article 30 or 3 days before spring break, we encourage you to get some exercise in each day prior to departure. Focus on both core and cardiovasuclar fitness, as this will play into your overall conditioning. Keep the weights in the light to medium range so as to avoid excessive strain that may result in injury (muscle tear, etc.) before you leave. More importantly, warm up and cool down before and after every single session, whether doing deadlifts or jogging along the seawall. Given that you’ll be busy preparing for your trip, you may not have time to get to the gym or to head outdoors, so consider investing in physical therapy equipment for the home so that you can squeeze in sessions between pre-trip responsibilities. A stability ball, balance trainer, foam roller, and exercise tubes/bands can be great spring break preparation accessories.
In addition, stay well hydrated and increase your nutritional intake throughout, allowing for a healthy balance of carbohydrates, good fats (including omega-3 EPA DHA), and protein along with plenty of antioxidants in your diet to promote muscle recovery and repair. Your nutrition should be delivered via whole foods and through natural health supplements alike.
4. Plan to Leave Anxiety and Stress Behind
Many (most?) people take advantage of spring break as a means to ease the household stresses of work, school, and other day to day responsibilities. However, more often than not these mental and emotional pains come along for the flight or ride and stick with you throughout the whole trip. Studies show that anxiety contributes to physical pain, which compounds the negative impact on your vacation further. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety which will help you better enjoy your trip. If you are concerned about stress getting in the way of being able to get the most our of your vacation, please follow our guide to how physical therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety in your life.
5. Consult with a Physiotherapist Before Your Trip
Many households get medical checkups before taking a big vacation, and that certainly makes good sense. What doesn’t make sense however, is to neglect anything that remediates physical impairments and promotes mobility and function (i.e. physiotherapy).
Look at it this way. Your doctor may diagnose a virus that needs to be addressed with medication before your trip so that you may avoid spending your vacation under the covers in your hotel room (not in a good way). Or, your dentist may find that a pesky tooth ache is on the verge of full blown eruption, resulting in an abscess and dramatic fascial swelling resulting in pain, discomfort, and straight up embarrassment. You can see how these scenarios can effectively ruin a vacation. Well, a physiotherapist may discover an underlying impairment that needs to be addressed in order to avoid significant injury while on your trip. Something as simple as releasing muscle tightness through manual therapy prior to a trip can directly prevent a Grade 2 muscle tear that may otherwise be sustained while jogging on the beach.
Heck, even if you plan on sitting in a beach chair by the resort pool for the duration of your trip, a certain amount of preparedness is required to maintain the base level of physical comfort. You’d be surprised what a physiotherapist can do to help you make the most of your spring vacation. For example, we bet you didn’t know that they can prescribe exercises and movements that will help improve sex, something that is definitely on the agenda for couples going on spring break! It’s so much more than addressing bum knees and rotator cuff strains folks.
From here on in, include a physical therapist checkup along with your visit to the family doctor and/or dentist before spring break, because your muscles, joints, and ligaments need to be in top form if you hope to truly enjoy your vacation. If your home base is in the Greater Vancouver area, schedule a consultation at our Burnaby clinic before your trip. Call 604.558.2273 today.