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Jun 20th

Avoiding distracting aches & pains this Festival Season

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Its festival season! Yay! I’m so excited to be going to Glastonbury and WOMAD this year.

05 Glasto 2013 Sat (21)

Festivals are a chance for people to pause their busy lives and have lots of fun living in a field for a few days. This change in lifestyle and routine can sometimes be a lot for our bodies to handle. I have found that back pain is particularly prevalent at festivals due to standing, walking and dancing for long periods of time. Here are some tips to avoid aches and pains from a festi-loving Physiotherapist πŸ™‚

Your body soon starts to tell you when it needs a rest. Listen to it!

Carrying Bags/Getting There
For many punters festivals mean a long journey to get there and then walking through numerous fields to find your perfect spot to pitch your tent. Heavy bags and rucksacks often lead to muscle aches and strains. Try not to pack more than you need and make sure you fasten your rucksack to your body as recommended by the manufacturer.

Rucksacks are normally more advisable than shoulder bags and hand bags as they distribute their load across your body. If carrying heavy bags try not to just lean forward; keep a good posture and take regular breaks to offload your bags.


Try to wear comfortable supportive footwear at least until you get to the festival! Your body will thank you for it.

Many people take all sorts of creatively designed sack trolleys to carry their belongings on – great idea to take the load off your back but not always practical – If you do take a trolley avoid yanking it through awkward terrain and up hill. Get some help and try to maintain a good posture drawing your shoulders back and down as you pull.

Everyone knows to bend your knees when lifting heavy belongings. Also make sure you keep the load close to your body and avoid twisting your body while carrying something heavy, it’s better to step around to turn.

If you are sleeping in a tent try to take something comfortable to sleep on as hard ground can exacerbate back pain. Also make sure your head and neck is supported in a good neutral position to avoid a stiff neck in the morning.

Take a break
I have found that walking and standing for hours on end causes an achy lower back. Try taking a chair or stool around with you to have a quick perch as sometimes it is hard to find somewhere to sit especially if it’s muddy. Just don’t leave your chairs around busy stage areas, that can get really annoying when walking through the crowds!

Many festivals offer massage and other treatments and all have medical tents so go and ask for advice and see what treatments are available for you.

I’m planning on visiting the healing field at Glastonbury for a Thai massage this year.

Healing Field


Stretching & Exercises
Take time to stretch your body – here are a couple of great exercises for releasing tension in your back.

Knee Hugs, rolls and twists

  • Lie on your back
  • Hug your knees up to your chest and take a few deep breaths.
  • Hold just below your knees and roll your knees away from and then towards your body in a circular motion.
  • Then roll your knees from side to side.
  • As you roll your lower back can feel like its being massaged against the floor.


Spine Folds

  • In standing stretch your arms up, let your spine lengthen and your head lift.
  • Keeping your spine long fold forwards from the hips taking your hands towards the ground, if you have tight hamstrings keep your knees soft.
  • Relax your upper body while folding forwards and take a few breaths.
  • Take your hands to your hips, lengthen your spine forwards and slowly come back up to standing.
  • Repeat.


The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy also advise not crowd surfing if you suffer with a bad back!!! Dave Grohl has also just reminded us that crowd surfing probably isn’t always a good idea! He fractured his leg during and recent gig when crowd surfing and the Foo Fighters were forced to pull out of their headliner slot this year. Boo. πŸ™

Ultimately avoid prolonged positions, keep moving, drink lots of water, have fun and enjoy the great outdoors.


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