SOURCE: AAOS

December 19, 2007 21:24 ET

This Holiday Season, 'Hit the Road, Jack' and Don't Get Hurt No More, No More

Lifting and Carrying Luggage Properly Will Help You Stay Safe While Traveling

ROSEMONT, IL--(Marketwire - December 19, 2007) - Seasoned travelers have a saying -- "Pack your bags, then take out half." This refers to the fact that most of us bring much more than we need on our trips, and have to lift and carry luggage that is unnecessarily heavy. If you are one of those people who cannot decide which half to leave at home, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has recommendations to help you lug your luggage safely.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:

--  In 2006, more than 53,000 people were treated in hospital emergency
    rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries
    related to luggage.
    

Packing light may prevent injuries:

--  Strains, pulls and tears can occur while carrying a heavy suitcase for
    an extended period of time, lifting and holding a bag incorrectly or
    lifting luggage from baggage claim carousels, overhead or under-seat
    compartments.
--  The chances of these injuries are even greater when a person has been
    sitting still for an long period of time (as when on a plane) or when the
    luggage is over-packed and especially weighty.
    

"Using proper lifting techniques can ensure that your trip isn't cut short by an injury," says orthopaedic surgeon Robert Hart, MD, who specializes in spine. "Even a relatively minor injury, such as a muscle pull, to the back, neck or shoulders can be quite painful in the short term and ruin your vacation."

The Academy offers the following strategies to prevent injuries when lifting and carrying luggage:

--  When purchasing new luggage, look for sturdy, light pieces with wheels
    and a handle. Avoid purchasing luggage that is too heavy or bulky while
    empty.
    
--  Pack lightly. When possible, pack items in a few smaller bags instead
    of one large luggage piece. It is better to carry a lighter bag in each
    hand rather than one heavy bag in one hand.
    
--  As with any heavy lifting, you should bend at the knees and lift
    luggage with your leg muscles -- not your back and waist -- and avoid
    twisting and rotating your spine. Stand alongside your suitcase, bend at
    your knees, then grasp the handle and straighten up. Also, try to carry
    luggage as close to your body as possible.
    
--  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 very heavy, check your luggage when traveling rather than carrying it on
    a plane, train or bus.
    
--  When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto
    the top of the seat. Then, with the 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 wheels are inside, put
    one hand atop the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment. To
    remove the luggage, reverse this process.
    
--  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 towards the center. Always
    wear a backpack on both shoulders -- slinging it over one shoulder does not
    allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can cause muscle strain.
    
--  If you need to use a duffel or shoulder bag, do not carry it on one
    shoulder for any length of time. Be sure to switch sides often.
    
--  Make sure to carry all rolling luggage up flights of stairs.
    

More luggage tips

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