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April 26, 2013

Say Goodbye to Painful Travel with These Luggage Safety Tips

“Back pain is very common and affects millions of Americans,” said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Brett Taylor, MD. “While there are many reasons for back pain, twisting or lifting improperly can be a major cause. For that reason it’s important to know what to do and what not to do while traveling with heavy bags or luggage.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 59,400 luggage-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics in 2011. Of those injuries, more than 25,900 injuries were sprains and strains; more than 26,300 were back injuries; approximately 2,060 were neck injuries.

The following travel/luggage safety tips, provided by the AAOS, will keep you safe and free from pain.

Choose the right luggage: When purchasing new luggage, look for a sturdy, light piece with wheels and a handle.

Pack lightly: When possible, pack items in smaller bags instead of one large luggage piece.

Lifting luggage into overhead compartments: Take care when placing luggage in an overhead compartment. First, lift it onto the top of the seat. Then, with your hands situated on the left and right sides of the suitcase, lift it up. If your luggage has wheels, make sure the wheel side is set in the compartment first. Once the wheels are inside, put one hand on top of the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment. To remove the luggage, reverse this process.

Lifting properly: When lifting luggage, stand alongside of it, bend at your knees, not your waist, lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up (do not twist the spine). Once you have lifted your luggage, hold it close to your body.

Carrying luggage: Carry light pieces in both hands rather than one heavy item in a hand off to the side. This can decrease stress to the spine. Be sure to lift your luggage, instead of dragging it, down stairs.
Avoid rushing: Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If your bag is too heavy or an awkward shape, get help.

Check heavy luggage: Do not carry heavier pieces of luggage for long periods of time. If your luggage is too heavy for you to comfortably carry, make sure to check it when traveling rather than carrying it on a plane, train or bus.

Correctly carrying backpacks: If using a backpack, make sure it has two padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Choose one with several compartments to secure various-sized items, packing the heavier things low and toward the center. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can cause muscle strain.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons