The Top 5 Holiday Injuries We See and How Not To Get Them


The wind had yet to come up at 5.30am. It was peaceful and i was on top of the most beautiful dormant volcano I had ever seen. I was blown away by the view and was enjoying this stunning place without anyone else around, just enjoying looking at the vast array of super yachts and luxury cruise ships parked on the Med and those  $300000 inflatable boats that take people out to their super yachts.

To my right was the beautiful Oia on Santorini, that postcard like village which gets blasted every winter by North African sand storms. Repainted so every year we get to see it in its freshly painted beauty. 


My  goal was to get to Fira around 4kms away. I kept walking on uneven surfaces when out of  nowhere I developed this extreme pain on the outside of my ankle. Not being someone who suffers from ankle pain i got quite a fright. I could barely walk and was 7kms from home.

It all became very apparent.

Who do I treat as a City Physio all winter?? People who’ve been trekking around Europe, the US and South East Asia for foot and ankle problems from you guessed it, doing far more walking than normal in the wrong shoes!

I looked at my phone step count: it was currently at 20000 steps, day before 25000 steps. I looked back to normal Sydney life and it sits around 10-12000 steps. I doubled my step count!

As I looked down at my feet I'd made the second cardinal sin. I could lie and say i had my trainers but i was walking 11kms in a pair of rubber thongs. Very naughty and very hypocritical.

During winter a fair proportion of Sydney escapes to Europe, the US and Southeast Asia and return with Plantar Fascia (heel) pain, sore knees, tennis elbow, a sore neck and swollen ankles. With no idea what they did! However in hindsight it becomes very apparent.

Our ageing bodies don’t like sudden changes.

We can normally get by on a change of between 10 and 20% of load increase, however in Greece recently I had in fact doubled my step count in a pair of thongs! What did I think was going to happen.

So here I am writing a post about the top 5  holiday injuries I see, and how to reduce the risk of it happening to you.

Here are my top 5 

Too Many Steps Too Soon

Far too much walking/ running for what your body is used to on holiday has to be the number one cause. Before you go away, I suggest you start using the health app on your iPhone to look for an average number of steps per day. Alternatively you could also get a fitbit.  If it sits around 8000 then you should be ok to walk up to 12000 steps per day max. Then take transport or Ubers. 

Walking In The Wrong Shoes AKA Your Thongs

Wearing the wrong footwear whilst ramping up your step count is a sure fire way to get yourself in trouble. If you know you are going to be doing a lot of walking, pack your trainers. Trust me your feet will thank you. Everyone loves to go shopping on holiday but if you haven't worn those brand new shoes before your feet are used to them you can end up injured. Stick to your old trainers and wear the new ones in when you get back home

Swelling From The Plane

This isn’t really an injury but i’ll include swelling and DVTS  in the same category. Being stuck in a window seat when someone next to you is sound asleep for 15 hours can be a real punishment. People who have previously had an ankle or knee injury (even if it was years ago) can all of a sudden be really swollen in that area and find themselves limping after the flight. Now this can put a damper on your holiday but don’t worry there is a couple of quick hacks to solve this

Tip 1: Find the nearest swimming pool or ocean. Walk around for 5 mins in chest deep water. The osmotic pressure will push the swelling away from the area.

Tip 2: Find your local Pharmacy and ask for a compression bandage. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one. I recommend tubigrip size c for ankles and size e for knees. If you are back at your accommodation elevate your legs above your heart for 20 mins and the swelling should go within 2 days with the above 2 tips.

Tip 3: If you know this is a regular occurance with the swelling invest in a pair of DVT stockings. They are great for long haul flights. If you can’t find them at your local chemist try ebay or amazon - the effort will be worth it.

Tip 4: Get up and move around on the plane. Do 3 x 20 calf raises, try walking backwards, on your heels then on your toes. Get some blood pumping!

PLEASE NOTE: If you have got off the plane with unexplained calf aching or pain/ redness you need to visit the local hospital/ doctor immediately to exclude a DVT. 

Suitcase Shoulder or Elbow

Next time you are at the airport have a look at how everyone drags their suitcases. Side flexed to the right shoulder down by their backside.  Look at the unorthodox strategies people use to get their bags off the conveyer belt. I personally like the single arm at full stretch yank and immediate pivot on one leg. Elbows love this manoeuver! Not!

Then you throw your bags into the taxi boot before dragging them to your accommodation.

Now unless you are a porter I suspect this is something you don’t do very often. My wife also has a tendency to push the kg limit on bags and I normally end up with another 10kgs of stuff in my bag.  All this adds to extra lifting and strain on the torso.

I always take a massage  ball with me to get rid of all the trigger points (knots) after flying, particularly at the front of the chest and back of shoulder blades (if you want me to film this routine leave a comment below), and I always do a few quick yoga stretches post flight.

Travellers Neck 

This can be caused by the above suitcase carrying. Also think of the crazy positions people sleep in on a plane. If you walk down the aisle mid flight you will get my drift. Then there’s all the sitting at airports slumping over, looking at your phone, and finally sleeping with a new unaccustomed pillow.

Again I refer to this quick little routine I do with the ball and yoga poses to help get your upper body feeling better quickly. If you aren’t happy with your pillow try and ask for one that is similar to what you have at home.

So that’s it. Enjoy your holidays but don’t do a Nick Torrance and double your step count in a pair of thongs!

Comment below with your holiday stories!