- Dr. Jason Bloom, DPT, CSCS
The PT Travel Kit: What to bring on vacation
Summer is the season for family vacations, and nothing says aches and pains like carrying luggage, sitting in cars or planes, and sleeping in hotel beds. The last thing you want on a vacation you have been planning for months, to make memories with your family, is an achy back or a sore knee keeping you from enjoying yourself. This is why we have put together a few items (“the PT travel kit”) that can fit in your luggage, and prevent you from getting pain, or help alleviate the pain you are already experiencing. The “kit” includes: a tennis ball, a rope or stretch strap, resistance band(s), hot/cold pack.
The tennis ball (or other trigger point ball) will be used to take out knots and trigger points. The tennis ball is most useful in the back and hip areas, or the bottoms of your feet (but you can find a way to use it in almost any muscle). If you feel tightness or pain in a muscle, lay on the ball and roll around until you find a particularly tight or tender spot. Hold the pressure on this spot for 30 seconds – 2 minutes until you feel the spasm or knot relax, and then search around for another spot.
Rope or Stretch Strap
One of the main causes of pain on a vacation is muscle tightness. Skiing, hiking, roller coasters, swimming, walking tours of ancient ruins, can all cause increased tightness in your muscles, especially if these are activities that you don’t do often. A rope or stretch strap is great to loosen up the tight and sore muscles.
Resistance bands come in many different levels of resistance, so it might be a good idea to pack a couple different ones, depending on what you want to use them for. They are a very light weight, and compact way to keep up with your fitness routine in a hotel room, and they can also help prevent or resolve pain. One great example is getting your postural muscles to fire. Sitting and driving for hours, or reading on a long plane flight can cause our shoulders to round and slouch. Using a resistance band to perform a rowing exercise is a great way to counteract that bad posture.
Heat and ice are great ways to ease sore and achy joints and muscles. One option is a gel pack that can be microwaved for heat or frozen for cold. Unfortunately, not all hotel rooms are equipped with microwaves and freezers. If you know this to be the case in your situation, for heat you can use and electric pad that plugs in. Ice will be more difficult. If you are really anticipating needing some ice, there are little packs sold at drug stores that get cold when you break the core inside, and last for about 15 minutes.
All of the items in the “kit” are lightweight, and can easily fit in a suitcase or carry-on. We hope that you have a fun summer, and make some great memories on your vacation.