This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Generations Magazine

Summer travel is at its peak. As a physical therapist, when I am at at the airport, I assess everyone’s posture and body mechanics.

Ouch! Not good, people! Neck, shoulder or back injuries are often due to wrestling with heavy, overpacked luggage. Repetitive pulling, pushing, lifting and lugging bags in and out of cars and overhead compartments, and up and down stairs can stress your body and potentially ruin a trip.

Follow these healthy tips on your vacation

  • Choose luggage that is light when empty
  • Buy luggage with swivel wheels
  • Use luggage with handles on two or three sides

Stand as close as possible to the luggage with your feet at least shoulder-width apart. A narrow stance causes instability. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your belly button, and bend at the hips and knees with a straight back. Lift with your leg muscles, which are stronger than your back muscles. Once you lift the luggage, hold it close to your body.

Do not twist when lifting and carrying. Point your toes and entire body in the direction you are headed. Stop and switch sides often when carrying a duffel or shoulder bag.

Pack light, keep your core muscles activated, use good body mechanics and enjoy your trip!