March Break Travel Tips

woman-lifting-suitcase-400x400Words by Dr. Nekessa S. Remy  

March break is one of the busiest travel times of the year. It is estimated that more than 120,000 travellers will be moving through Pearson Airport today alone. With travelling comes the packing, lifting and carrying of luggage and extended periods of sitting, all of which can contribute to back pain, neck pain and muscles strains. If you haven’t already reached your destination here are some tips to consider before you pack that suitcase.

Choosing the Right Luggage

  • Choose luggage that is transportable, meaning it is lightweight and not bulky. Suitcases and baggage that have wheels and a handle are best.
  • When selecting carry-on luggage, choose a backpack made with breathable material. Leather should be avoided because it’s heavy. Canvas and vinyl are better options. Ensure the pack has two wide and padded shoulder straps to help evenly distribute weight.

Packing your Suitcase

  • Pack only the essentials and instead of stuffing one large suitcase, it’s often better to use a few smaller bags.
  • Keep the contents of carry-on luggage to a minimum, pack heavy items at the bottom of the bag and make efficient use of the bag’s pockets. The total weight of a filled pack should be no more that 10 to 15 percent of the wearer’s body weight. For instance, someone who weighs 100 lbs should not carry a backpack weighing more than 15 lbs.

Lifting and Carrying Luggage

  • This is often when injuries occur. Move slowly when lifting a heavy piece of luggage and try breaking the action into smaller parts whenever possible. For example, when lifting a bag into an overhead bin, first lift the bag to the top of the seat, then into the bin in a separate motion. Similarly, loading a suitcase in the trunk of a car can be broken into steps, such as lifting it first to a chair or step stool, then lifting it into the trunk.
  • Bend at the knees and use leg muscles rather than back muscles to lift.
  • Avoid twisting the lower spine while lifting; instead, pivot with the feet and turn the entire body.
  • Carry heavy items as close to the body as possible.
  • If carrying one shoulder bag, switch sides often to avoid stressing one side of the spine.

Tips while Travelling

  • Stay hydrated. Recirculated air is dry and can cause dehydrated blood and muscles leading to headaches, stiffness, and pain.
  • Stretch. Sitting for longer than 30 minutes can cause muscles to stiffen up. Do simple stretches to reduce tightness especially in the neck.
  • Move your legs. Long periods of sitting decreases the circulation in your lower legs and blood can start to pool. This may leave some people susceptible to forming blood clots which can be very dangerous. If you’re unable to move freely, you can still move your legs and feet. Do some heel and toe raises or ankle circles in order to help your blood circulated.

DrRemy Bio PicDr. Nekessa S. Remy is a leading health and wellness expert with a passion for enabling others to be their own health champions. Her philosophy stems from her belief that healthy living is a right, not a privilege. Dr. Remy uses her knowledge and experience to educate others on how to become their own health advocates.

Her passion for health and rehabilitation led her to earning an Honors Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario followed by a Doctorate of Chiropractic from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. She also holds certificates in Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. Connect with Dr. Remy on Facebook and Twitter!

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