Is it possible to maintain fitness levels and prevent reoccurrence of that niggly low back pain whilst away on holidays?

We are currently in the midst of holiday season when we head off for a much-anticipated trip abroad or a long weekend away somewhere nice in the country. Whilst I am a great advocate of the importance of much needed R&R, I am also a big believer in not letting routines and habits totally slide.

So just as you turn on your ‘out of office’ notification, ask yourself if it is possible to maintain your fitness levels and prevent reoccurrence of that niggly low back pain whilst away on holidays? Is it possible to schedule some time into your day to exercise and stretch so you are not back at square 1 in a fortnights time?

Often when on holidays we have more free time than we would at home- no rushing here and there or trying to squeeze in a workout on the way home from the office / before Supervalu closes so we know it makes sense and we have the time so why not give it a try…?

I recently returned from a week’s break in Southern Italy with my wife. As mentioned in my previous blog I had developed a good routine in reformer Pilates to prevent the occasional episodes of low back pain that were becoming more apparent due increased time spent at my laptop.

My wife is also in a good fitness routine so our question was how could we maintain our levels of activity whilst away with no gyms and certainly no reformer Pilates studios nearby? I love swimming so knew that that would be my main form of activity but my wife isn’t a keen swimmer and as the coastal village we were staying in is not suited for running, that wasn’t an option for her either.

On our second morning, my wife decided to do a HIIT session available on YouTube by internationally renowned fitness blogger (who recently also presented at WellFest in Dublin). As I had committed to the daily swimming and may have been a little tender from too many glasses of the local vino the night before, I looked on from the comfort of the bed.

It was a 20-minute session which focused on high intensity aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic (strengthening) exercises. The program was 40 seconds of exercise with a 20 second rest x 10 exercises – repeated twice.

As I watched on, I was amazed (read: horrified) at the lack of instruction that was given regarding form and control. Instead it was a case of perform as many reps as you can regardless of body awareness / form / control. As a specialist physiotherapist and a reformer Pilates enthusiast it was complete chaos in the form of exercise and a definite journey to injury.

I expressed my concern but my wife being the stubborn woman that she is, continued and finished the session. And it didn’t come as a shock to me when the next day she (reluctantly) complained of pain in her lower back.

So, the following day I designed an exercise routine for us both that would not only help prevent reoccurrence of low back pain but would also help maintain my proximal stability / strength & control. I have been encouraging my wife to begin reformer Pilates but she has become addicted to spinning and body pump sessions at her gym so this joint routine also gave me the opportunity to assess her control and proximal strength. The program involved 1 minute of exercise with 30 seconds of stretching x 12.

Remember the cues you were given in your Pilates classes and your form and control will be spot on.

Download Ben’s Holiday exercise routine here

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