HealthSpan Wellness

Dr. Amelia Fratnik, Chiropractor

Ah yes!  It’s that time of year that many people consider “getting away” or travel to see family over the holidays.  It’s also that time when chiropractors see many patients coming in with neck, shoulder, or back pain after straining their joints and muscles due to improper lifting and carrying of their luggage.  Let’s review some tips for proper luggage use….


  • When purchasing new luggage, choose lightweight suitcases or carry-ons that have wheels and handles
  • For a carry-on, consider a lightweight, sturdy backpack with padded shoulder straps and preferably one with a waist strap for extra support


  • Less is more! That is, more benefit to your back and shoulders by packing less as this will reduce the risk of stress and strain to your body (and besides, you will have more room for souvenirs or holiday gifts!)
  • Try not to use one large piece of luggage. Instead, pack a few smaller ones that are easy to lift
  • As a rule of thumb, your backpack style carry-on should not weigh more than 15% of your body weight
  • When packing a backpack, place the heaviest items at the bottom and try to disperse the weight and items evenly inside and use the outer pockets of the backpack as well


  • For lifting, first have the luggage close to you and have your feet shoulder width apart
  • Avoid using your back to lift- you should bend your knees and use your legs to lower and raise your body up while keeping the luggage close to your belly-button (your “middle” point)
  • Always face the direction to where you are lifting and placing the luggage- do not twist
  • When loading luggage into a car or trunk, first lift it onto a chair or step stool or the edge of the trunk or seat, and then lift it into the space. This helps to avoid the big “heave-ho” and risk of injury
  • Same with hoisting luggage into an overhead compartment- first lift up onto the back of the seat, and then lift up into the space
  • Try to check as much of your luggage for transport and avoid having to carry any bulky luggage for longer distances. Use the luggage trolleys at the airport or train stations
  • Use both hands to carry luggage instead of only one
  • For back packs, ensure that you wear it properly using both shoulder straps- and if available- the waist strap- and adjust them to fit so that it doesn’t shift around on your body
  • If using a luggage piece with only a single shoulder strap, make sure that you switch carrying sides frequently to reduce strain to only one side