It happens every year. ‘I was fine while we were away, but since the flight back my back has been terrible.’ Only it probably wasn’t the flight that did it. Back pain is feature of the holiday season partly because we take luggage.
Suitcases are designed to injure backs. Not deliberately, of course, but they might as well have been. They are designed with handles that force you to lift them with one hand. That means you cannot lift them properly, with the weight balanced evenly. You pretty much have to pick them up from beside you – that means that you have to twist and bend to do it. That combined movement is the problem.
Lifting the suitcase onto the scales at check-in is worse still. it is an awkward, narrow belt and you have to bend and twist to put your case on it. At the other end of the journey, lifting your case off the airport carousel is worst of all. Try doing that without bending and twisting. Try keeping yourself evenly balanced on both feet and lift with both hand directly in front of you and close to your own centre of balance! It cannot be done.
Then we have the classic trap of putting suitcases into the car boot, and lifting them out again. Generally, we are thinking about something else at the time, and the case is heavy and a bit awkward… And that’s your low back you’ve upset again by bending and twisting.
Of course, if you back is starting to be a bit stiff before you go, then it is nicely set up to have problems. So, if in doubt, get yourself checked over before you go away, THINK about handling your suitcases and be careful – you may want to ask someone else to grab your bag off the carousel, and, of course, you know where we are when you get home again…