Welcome to the Holiday season! This means more travel to see family and friends, and with that comes stress. In order to protect your body from undo stress and possible injury when traveling I will provide some ideas from an ergonomic point of view.
The best defense when traveling to limit injuries is to give ample time to get from point A to point B. When in a hurry, people tend to make poor decisions like running in improper footwear or lifting luggage incorrectly over curbs and out of vehicles. Think about the last time you where running in the airport or to catch a bus or train.
Check Your Bags
Checking your bags will limit the chance of injury. Not having to lift bags overhead or pull them through the terminal goes a long way in saving your shoulders and back. Luggage can be expensive to check in travel today, so if this is not possible keep your luggage as light as possible. Most people tend to over pack which can strain your luggage, lead to broken zippers or handles and tax your body. I tend to pack every thing I think I need, then cut that in half.
Rules For Transporting Luggage
If you are pulling luggage though the airport I have a few suggestions I abide by. First, keep it light. As discussed this keeps the stress on your body much lower. Second, if you can purchase a piece of luggage with wheels do so. Even better is a four-wheeled spinner luggage so you are able to push, pull, and adjust between right and left hands. The key is to switch arms when maneuvering. Do not overuse your dominant side. Also, pushing luggage at a slight angle (think 10PM or 2PM on a clock if your body is 12PM) is a good mechanical position. Third, if possible take breaks. Get a drink of water or take a moment to rest if you have a long walk to your next terminal.
If Traveling By Car
If this holiday season you are traveling by car, which many Americans are, you need to think about similar tips, such as taking breaks during your drive to keep alert and keep your blood flowing. Also, packing a light piece of luggage will be easier to maneuver in and out of the vehicle. If you are reading or using a device in the vehicle as a passenger using a pillow or backpack to prop up your book/device closer to eye height is also helpful.
When in the car for over two hours, I suggest stretching every 30-40 minutes. You can set a timer on your phone as a reminder, or just watch the clock. When stretching it works well to do the following: squeeze your shoulders back like you are pinching a walnut between the blades, tuck your head towards the seat rest like you’re making a double chin keeping your eyes forward, and reaching one arm at a time towards the ceiling. This can only be done either with a break from driving, if you are a passenger or if it is safe to do so.
Keeping your body healthy during holiday travel will allow you to enjoy the time and your family and friends much more. If you would like to speak to an occupational therapist more about stress reduction or ergonomic ideas click here.
Have a stress free and wonderful holiday season!