Fitness and Performance
Get ‘Festival Fit’: What you can do to reduce your risk of injury this festival season
The spring days are drawing out so it’s time to look forward to the summer and all the fun it brings – including festivals! Thousands of festival-goers go home with happy memories of their favourite music and an incredible atmosphere. However, many also return home with injuries. Today we’ll talk about getting festival fit and protecting yourself from injury.
Concerts and music festivals are amazing sources of entertainment. What more could you want than summer days, fantastic food, superb live music and a fabulous atmosphere? Every year festivals like Glastonbury have huge attendances. The majority of festival-goers return home problem-free. However, along with great enjoyment, there is also the potential of injury.
According to injury claim paperwork, there seems to be a regular occurrence of specific injuries at festivals and concerts. Namely: slips, trips or falls; fractures or broken bones; ankle injuries; head/neck injuries; low back pain and food poisoning. Tragically, dehydration and overheating are two of the most common causes of festival deaths.
Getting festival fit
I’ve put together my top tips and guidance on how to get and stay festival fit. There’s also advice on managing any issues that arise, so you can get on with enjoying the rest of your musical experience.
Already got an injury?
If you are recovering from or being treated for an injury, check with your physiotherapist to see if they think attending is realistic. We get it – even if they advise against it, you probably are still going to go. After all, it’s a festival and you’ve been looking forward to it all year. However, your safety and health are important and, depending on the degree of your injury, going may not be advisable. Nevertheless, have a chat with your physio and ask them impact going could have. Consult them a few months before the festival; they can prescribe a rehab plan which may involve some strengthening work. This will put you in a far better position to go with a reduced risk of injury than if you see them just a week before.
If you intend to go regardless of the medical advice, be honest. Your physiotherapist can then give you a bespoke programme to manage your injury and keep you in the best possible shape during your time away.
Consider a chat with your physio as an essential part of your pre-festival planning – just like prepping your camping equipment or packing your clothes. More and more, people are using festival forums to discuss pre-existing injuries and how to prepare prior to going. Many festival-goers are now packing compression bandages, strapping tape, heat packs, massage creams and even exercise sheets from their physios. Be one of these people.
Going to a festival means that you’re going to be vibing for all hours, day and night. Now that’s a lot of moving! If you have a sedentary job or aren’t usually very active this will be a massive shock to your body. One of the most common causes of injury is when load exceeds tolerance. This means that the stronger, fitter and more active you are before going, the better chance of surviving unscathed. As you should be exercising regularly and moving more anyway for a healthier life, you should already be doing this anyway, right? Try to prepare for all that movement by increasing your activity levels in the lead-up to the festival.
Got your boots?
As well as packing your brightest shirts and face paints, it’s essential that you find the right footwear. Ankle injuries are one of the most common festival injuries so make sure that they are as supported as possible. Flip flops aren’t going to cut it – sorry! If the weather is good a good pair of trainers should be fine. In the UK, wellington boots are synonymous with festivals – we have such glorious weather here! They are fine but do not provide great ankle support. This is where your strapping tape might come in handy. Alternatively, you could wear hiking boots as they are more supportive. Remember to pack your orthotics, if you wear them, as well!
The last part of your festival prep is to make sure you have a decent sleeping set-up. Sleep is one of the most important components of a healthy life. If you skimp on sleep, your nervous system is more sensitised and you experience higher levels of pain. You also become more agitated, anxious and stressed. In addition, sleep is essential for recovery and regeneration which you’re going to need a lot of!
As you will probably run low on sleep during your time away, take full advantage of the times you can rest. Don’t sleep ‘rough’ so you are always waking. Instead, bring an air mattress or an inflatable roll mat. An air mattress is not only super-comfortable but great to chill on as well. If you suffer from low back pain, a good sleeping surface is especially important.
Now you have your prep down, fire that playlist up, collect your mates and on to the festival!
Now that you’re buzzing and unloading all your stuff, make sure you have help – especially if you are carrying heavy equipment. The last thing you want is to injure yourself on day one, hour one. Ask a friend, a member of staff or even a passer-by or pick up a trolley to give that bit of extra help.
It’s also important to check your lifting and carrying technique. Make sure you are always lifting from your legs, not your back. Don’t be a hero: if you need to do multiple trips, then crack on. It’s better to make a few trips than one big one and hurt yourself.
“You raise me up…”
It’s not only your luggage you’ll be lifting; you might also be carrying your mates. When lifting friends or having someone on your shoulders, make sure can manage the load and watch your technique. If you have someone on your shoulders be mindful of how long you carry them for. As injuries occur when load exceeds, put them down when you start to feel tired.
Listen to your body
You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking. So, if you start to feel tired or feel some discomfort, take some time out and find a place to sit and chill for a bit. This discomfort is your body’s way of telling you that it needs a break. Do it. Pushing through this can lead to injury.
Take a (massage) break
Many people on festival forums advise making the most of the massage tent or healing house to manage your injuries. So, if you have an existing injury, I highly recommend heading over there and getting yourself sorted. Your body takes a pounding at festivals so if you feel any pain, make a trip to the tent. Releasing your muscles will help you recover, relax and help reset your body for another day.
You may also find that yoga is on offer at the festival. It’s well worth taking an hour out to practise as it’s a good way to stretch out any built-up tension. Yoga will also help your mind, as much as your body, to recover.
Both yoga and massage will help to reduce the chances of injury and manage any existing ones. Make that trip!
One of the most important things to do at festivals is to stay hydrated. It gets hot in the crowd, especially if it’s a hot sunny day. You will sweat A LOT and will be at risk of overheating. That, plus alcohol, will dehydrate you even further so really try to drink water as much as possible. As tissues in your body become dehydrated, your body also becomes more susceptible to injury. The highest cause of festival deaths is overheating and dehydration, so it’s really important to look after yourself.
If you have any issues or concerns, injure yourself or don’t feel well, find the medical tent with trained professionals. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The festival has finished and it’s time to head home. First thing; make sure you get plenty of rest so you can recover. It may take a couple of days to realise but if you have any discomfort, pain or suspect you have injured yourself head to a physiotherapist. They will have a look and give you advice on managing your injury.
So, with Glastonbury coming up, prepare well, enjoy yourself, have fun and make a lifetime of memories!