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The best way to pack and place a bag in an overhead bin for those who carry on suitcases

The best way to pack and place a bag in an overhead bin for those who carry on suitcases
Wheels in or wheels out? It's a good idea to ask because different planes may accommodate bags differently. (Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)

Lighten up, America -- on your holiday packing. And it's not just me telling you this.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is warning travelers against the dangers of straining backs, necks and shoulders if they're not careful about how they carry their bags.

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Consider that last year there were more than 72,900 bag-related injuries, the organization says.

The doctors offer this advice on how to avoid hurting yourself while toting your bags:

Spread the weight around: Pack lightly and divvy up the weight between two bags instead of one big heavy one. Look for luggage that is sturdy but lightweight too.

Overhead bin hoist: I've watched so many people trying to fling huge bags into the bins with one hand as if they're competing in the shot put. There is a right way to do this, people.

First, lift the bag onto the top of the seat. Then grip your luggage with your one hand on the left and right side of the bag and place it in the bin.

If your bag has wheels, you might ask the flight attendant before you board about whether the wheels should face into the bins or whether they should face out.  This can vary by aircraft so it's not an automatic "always put them facing you" or "put them in touching the back of the bin" decision.

A new "Space Bin" in Boeing 737s will allow bags to be placed on their sides and will increase  space by 50%. Alaska, Delta and United are among those airlines that will be using the Space Bin-equipped overheads, which can accommodate six bags.

A great lift: When lifting heavy luggage, bend at your knees not your waist, using your leg muscles. Also, if you're carrying heavy bags, make sure your toes and your whole body are pointed in the direction you are going; don't twist your body to carry bags.

Be careful lifting and carrying luggage over the holidays. Some travelers risk injuries by not properly handling their bags.
Be careful lifting and carrying luggage over the holidays. Some travelers risk injuries by not properly handling their bags. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Check it out: If your luggage is too heavy to carry around the airport, send it on as checked luggage. Otherwise you risk injuring yourself before you even board the plane.

Backup plan: If you've loaded up a backpack to take along, make sure it has padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Don't sling it over one shoulder either unless you want to hurt your shoulder or neck.

Wheels up: Don't drag your luggage behind you up stairs when you're in an airport or elsewhere. Either pick up the bags as you climb the stairs or take an elevator.

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