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Monday, November 12, 2012

Orthopaedic surgeons offer traveling safety tips

Post provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Tense shoulders, or pains in the neck and back, are the all too familiar complaints of travelers who carry heavy luggage. As thousands of Americans gear up for travel this holiday season, orthopaedic surgeons share safety tips to reduce travel related injuries.

"Back pain is very common and affects millions of Americans," said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Brett Taylor, MD. "While there are many reasons for back pain, twisting or lifting improperly can be a major cause. For that reason it's important to know what to do and what not to do while traveling with heavy bags or luggage."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 59,400 luggage-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics in 2011.

  • Of those injuries, more than 25,900 injuries were sprains and strains;
  • More than 26,300 were back injuries;
  • Approximately 2,060 were neck injuries

Travel/Luggage Safety Tips:

  • Lifting properly: When lifting luggage, stand alongside of it, bend at your knees, not your waist, lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up (do not twist the spine). Once you have lifted your luggage, hold it close to your body.
  • Carrying luggage: Carry light pieces in both hands rather than one heavy item in a hand off to the side. This can decrease stress to the spine. Lift not drag luggage down stairs.
  • Correctly carrying backpacks: 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. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can cause muscle strain.

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