Staying hydrated and active, and being aware of our surroundings and our health limitations are some of the things Dr. Peter Youroukos highlighted in his presentation titled Common Traveling Injuries and How to Avoid Them” at a luncheon held by the Greek Women's University Club of Illinois in May. Treating a wide range of patients, from pediatric to geriatric individuals, the chiropractic physician and owner of Rising Phoenix Chiropractic focuses on nutrition, therapeutic exercise, and soft tissue work. He says that many of his patients seek his assistance upon their return from vacationing abroad.
“Neck and back pain, while traveling, a lot of the time is set off by poor posture, poor lifting mechanics, sitting for extended periods of time and staying in awkward positions,” Dr. Youroukos said. “A flight to Greece may take 12 hours. That is a long time to be sitting or sleeping in a little seat and not having the room to move much. I say this all the time ... we are meant to move. Once we stop moving, issues tend to occur,” he said.
The National Herald spoke with Dr. Youroukos about travel-related injuries and how to avoid them:
TNH: What are some common health issues or injuries related to travel for individuals of various ages?
Dr. Peter Youroukos: What I consider common injury/health issues have been what my patients have presented to me in my office following travel. I feel as though I am more attuned to how people move and operate, and I can pick out poor biomechanics, posture, lifting techniques, etc. There are a lot of shoulder injuries, whether it is a sprain, strain, or tear of one of the many soft tissues surrounding that area. The shoulder is actually an unstable joint, so it must have these surrounding, supporting structures for it to operate the way that it does. Shoulder injuries are very common across the board.
I have treated many patients for neck and back pain upon their return from traveling. This can be due to many different factors and usually presents as a combination of issues. We have to take into account what the individual does for a living, their activities of daily living, current/previous injuries/trauma, current health status, and much more. It is possible that they had an issue prior to traveling, and what they did while traveling may have sent it over the edge.
A lot of times people will use poor lifting mechanics while transporting their luggage. When someone has poor lifting mechanics, they increase their chances of an injury occurring. That may be shifting a bone out of place, straining a muscle, spraining a ligament, or herniating a disc in their spine.
Another problem that can occur is a fall. Many people enjoy the outdoors while vacationing, and that includes some type of hiking. Falls happen all the time and one thing we all can do to decrease our chances is just being aware of where we are walking/hiking. When I was in Greece, my family loved to hike and see the ancient ruins. When we hiked up to the Parthenon it was amazing! We walked all around it and stayed to just take in its magnificence. The thing is, now we had to go back down. Typically we are more tired going back down from a hike than we are going up. This is another reason we need to be aware because our muscles are fatigued. With fatigue you have an increased chance of injury because the muscles are not operating at full charge.
Lastly, we need to stay hydrated. The warmer months are when people typically go on trips, and do more activities. This increased activity with increased heat means we need to increase our water intake. Staying hydrated is paramount to our health and even survival.
TNH: How can these health issues and injuries be avoided?
PY: There are many ways injuries can be avoided. The advice I give my patients and those in my personal life, is that number one, we need to be aware. Whether that is being aware of your surroundings, your limitations, your posture – or being aware of your health as a whole. That is the first step. If we are unaware then we can't see what may need improvement in our lives.
I also would highly recommend taking steps to better overall health. That would include regular exercise, improved diet and nutrition, and of course visiting a chiropractor regularly. That could mean once or twice a week to once every other month, everyone is different, which means everyone needs different forms of treatment/maintenance.
A chiropractor could also be a health coach. Someone who teaches you how to lift your luggage, groceries, purse, weights, children, etc. correctly, how to correct your posture, how to live a healthier lifestyle, so that you are less likely to put yourself in a position that may cause an injury or health issue.
TNH: What is something interesting you have learned or come across in your field that most people may not know?
PY: I would have to say the power of the body. I have treated a lot of people throughout the years as a chiropractor. It is amazing what the body is capable of healing with just a little help. The human body is an amazing creation. We are a self-healing organism, but we may need some assistance along the way. As a chiropractor I don't claim to `heal' anything, I simply facilitate the body in finding the right path in its own healing process.