Orthopaedic surgeons offer safety tips for lifting and carrying luggage
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Carrying heavy luggage during holiday travel can be brutal on bones and joints, so whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, know your limits and practice safety first.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 75,543 luggage-related injuries in 2013, an increase of more than 20,000 when compared to 2012.
“While many of the injuries associated with carrying heavy luggage are minor, they can be painful and can take several days or even weeks to recover,” said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Brett A. Taylor, MD. “Travelers can avoid common neck, back and shoulder strains and other injuries altogether by cautiously handling their luggage.”
The AAOS offers the following 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 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 cause muscle strain.
- Carry—don’t drag—your luggage when climbing the stairs or, better yet, take the elevator with heavy luggage.
Lifting and Carrying Luggage
Orthopaedic surgeons restore mobility and reduce pain; they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Visit ANationInMotion.org to read successful orthopaedic stories.
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