New advice issued to prevent luggage injuries

A leading group of orthopedic surgeons has issued new guidelines to help travelers avoid injury during the holiday season.

The advice, issued ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday in the US and the Christmas travel period, is to travel light in order to reduce the risk of strains, pulls and tears from heavy luggage. Despite baggage charges increasingly levied by airlines, travelers are advised to take multiple bags rather than one large bag if possible. This is to reduce the risk of injury whilst lifting heavy items from overhead bins or carrousels, which is increased after long periods of non-movement such as an airplane flight.

"Lifting and carrying luggage that is too big or too heavy for a person's size and frame can put serious strains on your body," said Jeffrey A. Fried, MD, orthopedic surgeon and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "To minimize any damage to your neck, shoulders and back, it is important to bend at your knees, lift luggage with your leg muscles while tightening your abdominal muscles and avoid twisting and rotating your spine."

The group also suggested the following simple advice for travelling passengers:

• 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, as this may prevent soreness and discomfort to the shoulder area.

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