Travel is especially tough on your back, but there’s no reason why back problems should ruin your adventures. Prolonged sitting on airplanes, carrying luggage long distances, washing at sinks of ackward heights and swinging suitcases into car trunks–these are only a few of the things which can aggravate an old back problem or cause new a one. This is especially bad when you know that an orthopaedic surgeons perform spine surgery, from which everyone wants to stay away.
Here are tips to keep you from ending your trip flat on your back.
Pack suitcases near the front door to avoid stairs, doorways and extra walking. Take as little as possible, never more than you can comfortably manage. As a rule of thumb, don’t take more than you can carry three blocks without strain. Your back will thank you.
Remember too, porters and bellhops are not always an option and not every hotel has an elevator. Imagine yourself carrying six pieces of luggage up three narrow flights of stairs! Ladies, leave the make-up at home and plan to wear everything twice.
Two small suitcases are generally easier to manage than one large, heavy one. To lift luggage, stand close to it, squat down, keep your back straight, and use your legs to push yourself up. Avoid lifting heavy objects above your waist. For example, don’t try to heft a full hanging bag into a closet. Unpack it and hang the contents a few pieces at a time. Don’t heave weighty things into overhead bins, on planes or trains or buses. Ask for help, from either the attendant or a neighbor.
Use suitcases with wheels or a pull-along rack. “Test drive” a suitcase or rack before buying it. Wide, sturdy wheels are worth the extra cost. Once you’ve owned a suitcase with wheels, you’ll never go without them again–guaranteed!
Consider getting a folding garment bag with a built-in cart plus a device enabling it to stand upright and serve as a temporary wardrobe.
For hand luggage, choose items with both center-grip handles and shoulder straps, so you can switch off when an arm or shoulder gets tired. As previously mentioned, two small shoulder bags are better than one heavy one. Try to distribute weight as evenly as possible between them. If you use only one bag, changed shoulders frequently. A constant pull on one shoulder can often result in shoulder and back pain.
Backpacks are not only for young travelers. Backpacks distribute weight evenly and cause less back strain than hand luggage does. Backpacks are also easier to manage on airplanes than hand luggage. They leave your hands free and make stairs and ramps easier to navigate. Many backpacks are designed to be stored in overhead compartments.
Fill backpacks on a table top. This makes it easier to get the pack on your back. Always place heavier objects near the top of the pack and close to your back to avoid the effect of leverage.
When traveling by car, choose several small pieces of luggage. Swinging heavy bags into the trunk is particularly bad for the lower back.
Come back with your back intact!