Cape Town – We all have different reasons for training before we go on vacation, especially to sunny resorts. Add this one to your list if you don't want your luggage to ruin an expensive holiday.
Tongue in cheek this video that's gone viral might be – or perhaps not – but it's no joke when you've injured yourself trying to lift your luggage on to the conveyor belt on check-in, to mention just one example. The treadmill at your local gym clearly has another purpose you never knew about!
Even with suitcases sporting wheels and trolleys at airports, there is still a high incidence of injuries relating to luggage, which end up with you perhaps being unable to post selfies on social media while on holiday due to a face constantly contorted in pain. (By the way, watch Ed Sheeran's hilarious Beautiful People, feat. Khalid, trending video below on simply being your beautiful self and ignoring the “Insta lifestyle" holiday experience.)
When you insist on carrying your suitcase, be careful of the dreaded "suitcase elbow", not dissimilar to the painful repetitive strain injury experienced by tennis players called "tennis elbow".
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 85 000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics for injuries related to luggage in 2017.
Expert advice on how to avoid luggage injuries dictates that you not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase – well, they've clearly never almost missed a flight.
This is not to mention the stress of worrying about whether your luggage will comply with an airline's regulations being debilitating for your health, too, especially when travelling on the rand to locations abroad. (We won't talk about airlines losing your luggage or the feelings induced of perhaps being parted with certain items forever on having it pass through the luggage handlers at OR Tambo International Airport.)
The heavier and larger the luggage you lump around, the more at risk you are for neck, back and shoulder injuries. Your muscles, joints and skeletal structure find it hard to correct imbalances in the body when lifting luggage predominantly on one side of the body, for example.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following safety tips to avoid injury when lifting and carrying bulky bags on holiday:
– Avoid purchasing luggage that is too heavy or bulky when empty.
– Use smart packing techniques.
– To lift luggage, stand alongside it and bend at the knees. Try to limit bending 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. 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.
– Do not carry bulky luggage for long periods of time. When possible, use the airline’s baggage service when travelling with heavier items.
– 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.”
– When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Place your hands on the left and right 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.
– 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 centre. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly. This can cause muscle strain.
– 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.
– Do not drag rolling luggage when climbing stairs – carry it instead.