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November 24, 2015

Tips for traveling with heavy luggage this season

Orthopaedic surgeons promote caution

ROSEMONT, Ill.—The holidays are a popular time to travel, and as families pack their suitcases to hit the road, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons would like to remind everyone to practice caution when lifting heavy luggage.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 72,900 luggage-related injuries in 2014.

“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.”

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 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.

    More tips:
    Lifting and Carrying LuggageAmerican Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS provides educational programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients, and is the authoritative source of information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related issues. 
    Visit AAOS at: for bone and joint health news, stats, facts, images and interview requests. for inspirational patient stories, and orthopaedic surgeon tips on maintaining bone and joint health, avoiding injuries, treating musculoskeletal conditions and navigating recovery. for patient information on hundreds of orthopaedic diseases and conditions.
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