08 April 2007

don't let your baggage drag you down

carrying suitcases indiaA porter carries suitcases in train station. Amritsar, India.

The most frequent cause of back injury when traveling is hoisting our heavy suitcases. As airline baggage requirements are becoming more strict by reducing the weight limit for suitcases, we're still trying to handle the load. If you're like me, you find yourself adding stuff into your carry-on bag that makes it just slightly heavier. I mean, who can possible travel anywhere with only two 40-pound suitcases?? (less than 40 kilos)

It's all so inconvenient and I long for the days when there were no weight restrictions on our luggage. Nevertheless, one must protect one's back.

Here's what you can do to avoid hurting your back, shoulders, neck, arms, and anything else in between whilst traveling:

- Avoid lifting and twisting in the same movement. The small muscles in your back that rotate the spine are working with small levers (the vertebrae). Especially, avoid lifting away from the body and twisting your back.

- Bend the knees to lift up a case.

- Hold bags close into your body while turning with them.

- Use trolleys and suitcases with wheels whenever possible. Yes, it is truly annoying that we have to pay for trolleys in the United States, when every other civilized country allows free usage, so...

- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Keep spare currency in your wallet to pay for porters.