Most injuries come from handling your luggage. Since many airlines have a 20-23kg limit, most people pack their bags to the weight limit. If you are not used to lugging 23kg around with you it is important to read the suggestions below. (20kg is equivalent to the weight of an average 6 year old child).
Where most people get injured is lifting, dragging and twisting bags on and off conveyor belts and into overhead spaces. There are also lots of opportunities for cuts, grazes and bruises as well as hidden dangers such as deep vein thrombosis.
Using an unfamiliar bathroom puts you at risk of slips and falls, shower trays and baths can be dangerous. Watch out for electrical adaptor plugs that fall to bits when you pull them out, Sue got an electric shock in Budapest when an adaptor plug fell to pieces as she pulled it out of a socket!
This is typically what you might do:
12 TIPS TO AVOID INJURY - WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Let's go through the stages again and I will suggest how you can avoid injury:
Instead of packing your suitcases and bags upstairs, do it downstairs. Bring your bathroom scales downstairs if you need to weigh the suitcases. Or buy a portable spring type weighing device.
If you have a taxi let the driver load your suitcases for you, if you must handle them avoid twisting and lifting at the same time. If you have a history of back problems consider a lightweight velcro lifting belts
If your next challenge is the train station, choose a station where the platform is on the right side for you, avoid carrying your bags over footbridges whenever possible. Plan your return journey ahead, you might want to come back to a different station to avoid carrying suitcases over a footbridge.
At the airport check-in you will have to lift your bags onto a low conveyor belt.
Stand square on to the conveyor, clear the floor around you, bend your knees and lift carefully in one clean movement.
Going through security theatre could mean standing in line for ages. At or after x-ray you might have to take off your shoes so they can be X-rayed too.
Bending to undo shoelaces is risky after a long stand. Sit down if you can, next best is to put your foot up onto a railing or surface. Do not do a toe-touch style forward bend after a long stand, your hamstring muscles will be tight and you could strain your back.
Then you wait for your flight to be ready, walk to departure gate with hand luggage and anything that you bought airside, could be a mile or so. This is where wheeleable hand luggage is a godsend.
Invest in something that rolls easily with minimum effort, I like Samsonite spinner suitcases.
Shoes are important. Airports are not the place for impractical fashion shoes, remember you will be wearing them for hours while walking standing and sitting.
When you get on the plane you lift your hand luggage into the overhead locker and spend the next few hours sitting in a cramped position until arrival. Then you get up, lift your hand luggage down and deplane.
Lifting bags overhead is unfamiliar for most people, the main advice is not to twist when you lift and use your legs rather than your shoulders to produce the lift.
Carry a scarf to protect your neck from draughts on the plane and anywhere else that you might be at risk. A scarf can also be used for security to tie a handbag to your belt.
Some people like to take a couple of aspirin as soon as the plane doors close, the idea is to thin the blood and reduce the likelihood of blood clots. Don't do this without getting medical advice.
More security checks and queuing, then if you are lucky, collect your luggage from the carousel. Another risky lift as you are faced with a heavy moving object and it can be difficult to get a clear space to position yourself well.
Ideally time your lift so that you are holding and facing the suitcase as it moves away from you, lean back with knees bent and let the suitcase topple off the conveyor towards you.
Carry/wheel luggage to coach/taxi.
Choose luggage with wheels and straps, this makes it easy to trundle and you don’t need to pay for trolleys or porters. It is also kinder to your body
At destination move luggage again.
Congratulations you have arrived.
When you arrive at your destination carry out an inventory of all slippery surfaces, especially shower trays, tiled floors and baths.
Happy holiday – stay safe!
Bill Ferguson, Osteopath
The photo at the top of the page is Playa del Reducto, Arrecife, Lanzarote
My name is Bill Ferguson and I am an Osteopath and Acupuncturist.I run a private practice in Tenterden, Kent.
Bill Ferguson Osteopath and Acupuncturist Tel: 01580 762754. See here for my practice website www.billferguson.co.uk