When you pack your suitcase for that holiday flight to your parents, make sure you don’t arrive to your destination bringing something extra – like a neck or back injury.
Unfortunately, it will happen to many travelers this year who tote heavy luggage in and out of cars, airports and luggage carousels.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission even collects official statistics for what they call “luggage-related injuries,” causing neck, wrist, back and shoulder pain.
Last year, more than 53,000 injuries were reported.
That’s why the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recently issued a list of tips for how to safely lift and carry luggage.
“Holiday travel can be uniquely stressful and physically taxing, especially when transporting heavy and cumbersome luggage,” said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Spokesman Warner L. Pinchback. “To ensure that you arrive at your holiday destination free from pain, it’s important to know how to optimally choose, pack, carry and lift your luggage.”
The AAOS offers the following safety tips:
- When purchasing new luggage, look for a sturdy, light piece with wheels and a handle.
- Pack lightly. When possible, pack items in a few smaller bags instead of one large luggage piece. Many airlines restrict carry-on luggage weighing more than 40 pounds.
- When lifting luggage onto a platform or into a car trunk, stand alongside of it, bend at your knees, not your waist, lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up. Once you have lifted your luggage, hold it close to your body.
- When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Then, place your hands on the left and right sides of the suitcase and lift it up. If your luggage has wheels, make sure the wheel-side is set in the compartment first. Once wheels are inside, put one hand atop the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment.
- Do not twist your body when lifting and carrying luggage. Instead, point your toes in the direction you are headed, and then turn your entire body in that direction.
- Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If it is too heavy or an awkward shape, get help.
- Do not carry heavier pieces of luggage for long periods of time. If it is too heavy, make sure to check luggage when traveling rather than carrying it on a plane, train or bus.
- If using a backpack, make sure it has two padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Choose one with several compartments to secure various-sized items. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can cause muscle strain.
- Carry – don’t drag – your luggage when climbing the stairs.