The Problem With Holidays

By January 29, 2016Blog
Lorne2

Having recently returned from a family holiday one would hardly think I had a reason to complain at all. The weather was perfect, the pools and bars were great and I didn`t get out of thongs for much of the time. I even hired a bike to keep fit while I was away. So what`s the problem you say. Well from an R and R perspective absolutely nothing, but from a physiotherapy perspective quite a bit. I came back from my lovely holiday with a couple of niggles that could probably have been avoided in the first place. Now these niggles in my foot and one of my knees aren`t too bad but I reckon if I had have been away for another week or so we may be talking injuries not niggles.

So how did this happen and what could I have done to avoid them? Well I will describe the symptoms and then you, the reader, can decide if you can relate to how easily these sort of niggles can occur. To set the background , I organised a bike ( much to the disgust of my wife , but she is used to my exercise obsession ) from the place I do if we go away and you guessed it , they had no record of my booking. So after an interesting discussion they organised a replacement one but it was pretty small. The seat was so high to achieve the correct height that I looked like I belonged in a circus. But, given that there was no other alternative, I made do with it.

For the first two days I rode and despite feeling cramped the machine wasn`t too bad. On the third day I started to notice some clicking behind my left knee every time I extended the leg. No pain but just click, click, click. Annoying and then half way through the ride it disappeared. I forgot about it until the next ride and on this ride it didn`t go away so I had the next day off and adjusted the seat a bit lower, thinking that the seat had been a little high and I was too cramped in forward lean on the pushy. I downed a few NSAIDS in between beers over the next few days too. At the time I was cursing the bike shop and couldn`t wait to get back to my own bike in Ballarat.

Next issue. About 5 days into the holiday we were walking along the beach and the arch of my right foot developed a pulling sensation. To give you some background, I have pretty flat feet and generally wear orthotics for walking, running and cycling. Now it`s pretty hard to go on a beach walk and wade through ankle deep water with shoes and orthotics. The walk was about one kilometre each way and I had walked in shoes on the beach a couple of days earlier but after being ribbed by my kids and wife at being a spoilsport and to “loosen up” decided to go the barefoot option. It was fine for the first two days but on this third day the niggle appeared. Lesson learnt. I swore that the next time I would walk on the hard sand in runners instead. Not as much fun but a safer option.

Well how did it pan out for the rest of the holiday and what were the injuries and how did they occur. So my self-diagnosis for the injuries included a left hamstring / pes anserine tendinopathy (you can look these up on Dr Google) and a right plantar fasciitis. Not bad but it has taken 3 weeks for the hammy to settle with some help from one of my physio colleagues and the foot took some self-massage with a ball, taping and correct footwear to right itself within the week. To complicate matters I normally have a regular massage (and have done so as a preventative maintenance for twenty years) but through one commitment or another had missed four weeks and the holiday made it six. Given I was in Port Douglas and didn`t know anyone I wasn`t going to risk being treated by an “unknown” practitioner.

To get to the point of the blog the reason I mention that holidays can be risky from an injury viewpoint is that they take us out of our normal routines and environment (which is great for a physical and mental break) but we must be careful that if we want to continue to exercise and not lose fitness while away, caution and common sense must be demonstrated. Our bodies can be temperamental things at times and structures like tendons don`t like sudden change. Simple things like changes of footwear or going from being shod every time we weight bear to suddenly not wearing shoes can overload them to a critical point where by an injury can occur. Equipment or terrain can do the same thing by altering load. Don`t get me wrong, I`m all for mixing things up to keep interest levels up and to stimulate the body into improving , but next time you are away on a break, think a little about what your body needs to operate efficiently and safely.

-Michael Pierce is a Sports Physiotherapist of 23 years and the Director and Principal Physiotherapist of Lake Health Group.Michael Pierce