Whether you carry or pull/push your luggage or golf bag matters. Carrying a heavy bag stresses your body, particularly your spine. To protect your back, whether you’re golfing or lugging suitcases, invest in a reliable bag that you can push or pull.

“Carrying your clubs not only places a huge amount of compressive force on your spine, but also causes lactic acid build up in the surrounding muscles, causing fatigue and you guessed it... injuries!” explains sports chiropractor Josh Nelson.

For this reason, most recreational golfers, and many NCAA competitors, use a riding cart or a pushcart. Pro golfers, like the UL-sponsored LPGA players getting ready for the UL International Crown set for Oct. 4-7, use a golf cart, when permitted, or a caddy.

“People who push a cart have a lot fewer [health] issues, and a lot less potential for issues. The golf swing is tough on the back no matter how you look at it. If you can use a push cart and keep one more stress away from the back that's a great thing,” said Dr. Neil Wolkodoff, medical director of the Colorado Center for Health and Sports Science for a recent article in Golf Digest.

When you travel, be smart and mind your back, too. Invest in quality luggage you can push or pull, and test it to make sure it fits your height. Look for luggage with bigger wheels, place heavy belongings at the bottom of the suitcase, and pack as lightly as possible.

Also, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) advises these tips for lifting luggage into the airplane carry-on bin or at other times:

  • When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Place your hands on the left and right sides of the suitcase and lift it up.
  • Stand alongside of it and bend at the knees and limit bending at the waist. Lift with your leg muscles and hold it close to your body.
  • Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If it is too hard, get help.

Tips for Carrying Heavy Backpacks, Purses or Work Bags

Sometimes we end up carrying bags, such as backpacks, work bags or purses. If overloaded, these can harm our backs. With 80-percent of Americans experiencing back pain in their lifetimes, according to the American Chiropractic Association, then we need to do everything we can to protect our backs, including lessening our loads.

To protect your back, go with a purse, work bag, or back pack that’s as light as you can possibly make it. Watch your posture. If you’re leaning forward to carry the load, then the bag’s too heavy. If you have neck or back pain, then the load’s too heavy. Also, when you’re carrying a duffel bag or purse, rotate between both shoulders instead of using the dominant arm, advises the AAOS.

Never carry more than 10-percent of your body weight – and make sure that kids follow this rule, too, advises the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

When it comes to kids and backpacks, the AAOS and AOTA recommend the following additional safety tips:

  • Use both shoulder straps to more evenly distribute the weight. A cross-body bag can also be a good alternative for carrying books and supplies.
  • Tighten the straps to keep the load close to the back.
  • Pack heavier things low and toward the center.
  • Pack light, and carry only those items that are required for the day.
  • When picking up a backpack, lift properly by bending at the knees.
  • Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight. Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.
  • Watch your child put the backpack on to see if it is a struggle, which means it’s too heavy.
  • Encourage your child to stop at his or her locker when time permits throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.
  • Always select a backpack that is the correct size for your child, which means the height of the backpack extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.

To protect your back, pull or push your luggage or golf bag instead of carrying it. When you have to carry a bag, make sure it’s as light as possible and doesn’t cause strain – and that goes for your kids, too.