Flying is notoriously uncomfortable.
The lack of legroom, lack of cushioning, and lack of support can leave the flying experience, well, lacking. However, it’s not just the flight that can cause you pain. The larger and heavier your luggage, the more susceptible you are to neck, back, and shoulder injuries.
So, before you pack your bags, consider these tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and save your body the unnecessary strain:
Choose wheels. Look for a sturdy, light, high-quality, and transportable pieces when shopping for luggage. Choose luggage with wheels and a handle. Avoid luggage that is too heavy or bulky when empty.
Pack lightly. When possible, place items in a few smaller bags instead of one large bag.
Lift it right. To lift luggage, stand alongside of it and bend at the knees. Do not bend at the waist. Lift the luggage with your leg muscles. Grasp the handle and straighten up. Once you lift the luggage, hold it close to your body.
Twist not, hurt not. Do not twist when lifting and carrying luggage. Point your toes in the direction you are headed and turn your entire body in that direction.
Slow down. Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If it’s too cumbersome, get help.
Check the big boys. Do not carry bulky luggage for long periods of time. Check heavier items when traveling.
Use both hands. Carry pieces in both of your hands rather than one hand off to the side. This can decrease stress to the spine. Less weight on any one arm can also reduce the risk of developing “suitcase elbow,” a chronic condition similar to “tennis elbow.”
Seat, wheels, shove. When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Place your hands on both 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 atop the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment. To remove the luggage, reverse this process. If it’s too heavy to lift, ask for help.
Learn knapsack know-how. When using a backpack, make sure it has two padded and adjustable shoulder straps to equally balance the weight. Choose a backpack with several compartments to secure various-sized items, packing the heavier things low and towards the center. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly. This can cause muscle strain.
Switch sides. When using a duffel or shoulder bag, do not carry it on one shoulder for any length of time. Be sure to switch sides often and set the bag down whenever possible.
Avoid the bump and tug. Carry all rolling luggage when climbing stairs. Do not try to tug your suitcase up and over each step.
Want more tips on avoiding pain while on the plane? Learn how to prevent aches and fatigue with these four steps.