Luggage Safety and How to Avoid Neck, Back and Shoulder Injuries

Luggage Safety and How to Avoid Neck, Back and Shoulder Injuries

Nov 30, 2015

The holiday season is in full swing, which probably means you are in the midst of errand running, shopping, and travel. Whether it’s a short jaunt with an overnight bag or long flight out of state with a heavy suitcase, it’s important to lift and carry luggage with safety precautions in mind.

It is common to sustain an injury because of improper lifting or carrying techniques, and our team offers some great tips to keep you pain-free below. 

When you’re just in a rush or racing through airports, it’s easy for one slightly wrong twist or heave of a suitcase to leave you aching. The last thing you want during a vacation or holiday is to be sidelined from festivities. The number one thing to remember when en route with luggage is: exercise caution. 

Being cautious and aware of how you’re lifting and carrying is key. Set yourself up for a successful trip: don’t over pack, consider your own strength, lift with your legs, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Six Tips: 

1)   Avoid awkward and cumbersome luggage. Luggage that is hard to maneuver or causes you strain/struggle is more likely to bring pain and injury your way.

2)   Don’t overlook overpacking. If you have a long trip ahead of you, it is safer to take a couple of smaller bags rather than one large, heavy bag. This includes overstuffed backpacks, which have a tendency to cause muscle strain (make sure your weight is distributed evenly). You’re less likely to become fatigued from lugging around a huge suitcase, and your neck, back and shoulders will thank you upon arrival.

3)   Slow and steady wins the race (or avoids injury). Don’t forget to take breaks if you need to. Sudden, rushed movements are a great way to pull a muscle, tear a tendon or throw out your back.

4)   Lift with your leg muscles and watch your alignment. This also means being aware of what the rest of your body is doing. Don’t bend at the wait- bend at the knees and try to keep your back straight. A common mistake is to lift with your back (arching it) or arm muscles (dragging or pulling abruptly), especially when you’re in a rush.

5)   Be cautious with overhead compartments (and don’t be afraid to ask for help!). Employ the previous four tips in all respects- start with the bag on the seat below and lift slowly with your legs, having a hand on each side of the bag. Gently push it wheels-first into the compartment. 

6)   Dragging is a drag for your muscles. Sometimes it seems easier to drag heavy luggage up the escalator or stairs, but it’s terrible for your wrists, shoulders and back. If climbing is in your future- always carry (or opt for the elevator!).


The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends these additional tips for pain-free holiday luggage lifting and carrying.



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