Traveling comes with lots of opportunities for injury. You are carrying extra weight, lifting heavy suitcases, twisting bags in and out of cars and overhead bins, sitting for long periods of time, sleeping upright… the possibilities for a crick in the neck or a strained back are endless. And “hurt” is the worst way to spend your vacation. Here are some travel tips to keep weight evenly distributed and help you avoid injury.

How to Wear a Heavy Backpack

If you have a backpacking trip coming up, it is so important that you have a backpack that allows you to distribute the weight across these three points on your body: hips, chest, and shoulders. And you should be able to stand up straight with the full weight of the pack. If you are hunching forward or being pulled backward, the pack is too heavy for you and you need to shed some of the weight.

How To Get a Large Bag Off a Baggage Carousel

The last thing you want to do at the beginning of your trip is hurt your back, but if you yank and twist your big, heavy bag off the baggage carousel at the airport you might do just that. In this video, Dr. Danielle Litoff, DPT demonstrates how to remove a bag from the carousel using both handles, both hands, and stepping back so you are not rotating.

Make Your Bags Work For You When You Travel

The right bags can make all the difference when you travel. Having a roller back with four wheels allows you to keep the bag close to your body and switch sides. This avoids shoulder and back strain and helps keep you balanced. Also carry a backpack so that you can distribute the weight between your roller bag and your backpack. And get a backpack with a strap or a piece of fabric that will attach to the handle of your roller bag so that your roller can carry the backpack most of the time.

Ways to Use a Neck Pillow When You Travel

We all know the traditional way to use a neck pillow, but in this video, Dr. Danielle Litoff, DPT shows three other ways to use a travel neck pillow. You can turn it to the side, lean it against the window, or flip it to the front.

Best Car Seat for Long Trips

We highly recommend the Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Seat Cushion for long car trips. Having this product in the car helps the pelvis to anteriorly tilt which takes the pressure off the sacrum and the discs. Having slouchy posture with your leg extended out to the gas pedal puts a ton of pressure on the discs and hamstrings, and extends pressure and strain to the lower body.

We all wanna “get there” but you should plan your trip so that you can get out of the car every two hours and stretch and walk. It can be as simple as walking around the car when you are getting gas or doing some extensions with the foot and ankle to balance out all the flexion you have been doing in the car. And if you can and it is safe, use your cruise control. That can give your leg some movement and relief from flexion on those long highway stretches.