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how to manage injury while on vacation

Tips for Traveling with an Injury

We’ve had a family vacation planned for over a year. The airplane tickets are purchased with no insurance because I’m sure nothing will go wrong! The hotel is booked, and we are stoked because it has a pool (the kids love to swim). I’ve even been going to the tanning bed so I don’t burn the first day and need to spend the rest of the vacation indoors…

And then it happens… I hurt my shoulder walking the dog because he takes off after a squirrel!! The specialist said it was a subluxation and that the MRI shows a partial tear of the shoulder labrum (the cartilage rim of tissue around the socket that helps keep my arm bone in place). Great, just my luck!

I’ve been seeing a Physical Therapist at SportsCare Physical Therapy and am making great progress, but I’m only about 50% of normal… Ahhhh we leave on vacation next week!! As I’m panicking and explaining my situation to my therapist, she remains calm and shares a couple great travel tips…

How to manage an injury while on vacation:

  • Pack 3-gallon size zip lock bags. They are light, take up little space and easily pass TSA.  You can fill them with ice from the hotel and cool your shoulder 15 minutes 1-2 times a day while the kids watch tv or play fortnight on their phone. Don’t forget to put a damp towel between your shoulder and the ice bag to prevent burning the skin.
  • Airplane pillows are an excellent size to put under your elbow or behind your mid or lower back for support. Airplane seats are concave, meaning they bow inward, which is not comfortable for your back and neck. Place the airplane pillow in the small of your back or between your shoulder blades to help fill the void and support your back. Alternate pillow positions to make your flight even more comfortable!
  • Get help putting luggage in the overhead compartment! It’s best not to pester the busy flight attendants, so ask a family member to lift your heavy suitcase.
  • Use your good arm to pull the roller luggage or rent a cart for large bags. This seems like a no-brainer, but we are forgetful and it’s good to have the reminder.
  • If possible, take your favorite pillow. Hotel pillows are either way too tall or way too flat. You will sleep better if you bring your own pillow.
  • Take a business card and email or call your Physical Therapist if you have any questions to suffer a set-back while out of town.
  • Take a copy of your home exercise program and only do a couple each day to maintain your Range of Motion and strength. Don’t over-do it! You are on vacation and probably quite active already.

These are all great suggestions! Now I feel I can relax – as much as any parent with three young kids, knowing that I have a plan to take care of my shoulder. This will be the best vacation ever!

Thank You SportsCare!