Travel symptom 1 – travel fatigue
Travel fatigue is a post-travel state of weariness and “occurs every time we travel and is a result of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors,” according to Lo.
Physiological factors include the position athletes sit in as they travel. Human bodies are not made to sit in a cramped position for an extended period of time and this leads to stiffness and muscle soreness.
Also, travel fatigue can be worsened by psychological stresses.
“The fear of flying, baggage claims, forgetting your passport, and arriving on time are examples of what can cause psychologically-derived travel fatigue,” said Lo.
“Finally, environmental factors lead to travel fatigue. Dehydration, air conditioning, and altitude exposure [cabin pressure on planes] are all common reasons why athletes feel fatigued after they travel.”
These factors work collectively to stress our bodies and minds, causing a negative response and therefore impact on athletic performance. They can take effect even from a single journey, but they are compounded if athletes continue to travel across their sports season.
Lo explained: “Travel fatigue affects athletes’ performance acutely and over time, but can be reduced through effective travel planning – to ensure the smoothest journey – and can be reduced by keeping your body moving when travelling with stretches and wearing compression garments.
“To further mitigate travel fatigue, you should allow your athletes a good night’s sleep after they travel and before a competition. Research has shown that rest and sleep are the most effective way to mitigate travel fatigue.”
For example, if an athlete is competing on a Sunday, it would be better for them to travel on Friday to allow a day of recovery on Saturday.