The last thing anyone wants to pick up while traveling this holiday season is a back injury.
Yet more than 72,000 people hurt themselves in 2014 while handling luggage, according to the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Individuals are at high risk for back, neck and shoulder strains when carelessly handling heavy luggage,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Nitin Khanna, MD. “Instead, always be cognizant of the way you are lifting heavy luggage to avoid painful injuries.”
To help prevent back or spine injuries while traveling, orthopaedic specialists recommend several safety tips from the way luggage is packed to proper lifting techniques:
- 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 piece of luggage. 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. Lift your luggage close to your body.
- When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Then, firmly 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 on 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 also contribute to muscle strain.
- Carry—don’t drag—your luggage when climbing the stairs. Instead, take the elevator.
Source: AAOS news release
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