Festival Ergonomics? Try These Tips to Avoid Aches and Pains
Louisiana’s famous festival season is back in action, and the state is alive with the energy it brings. It’s been a while since we’ve all flexed our festing muscles, so our expert physical therapists have put together a guide to make sure we keep our bodies primed to party while we get back in the festival groove. Proper wellness and body ergonomics are especially important when we’re in new environments or participating in activities that aren’t part of our daily lives.
What are body ergonomics, you might ask – and why are they important? To put it simply, ergonomics is how we improve our body’s movement and efficiency in a specific environment. When we are at a festival, we may be using our bodies in different ways than normal. We may be walking more, lifting and carrying supplies, waiting in long lines and even sitting in different positions – like on the ground or in low, unsupportive chairs.
The International Ergonomics Association says that ergonomics can help reduce the risk and accidental injury associated with this type of physical activity. Applying principles of ergonomics can help improve posture, lower the stress of carrying large or heavy objects, and improve your overall well-being in unusual situations. We’ve broken down the five main components of festing with some ergonomic tips to keep your body feeling great!
Just making it to the fest can be exhausting. Make light work of it by planning ahead.
- Pack light. Of course, include all your personal essentials, but keep in mind how much walking you’ll have to do with all your belongings. Even just getting to the gates from your parking space or Uber could be a trek.
- Lift appropriately. Whether loading your vehicle, carrying your cooler, or setting up your spot, make sure you use proper lifting mechanics. Bend from your legs, not your lower back; keep the load close to your body; and don’t twist at your hips.
- Choose easy-to-carry alternatives. Instead of a traditional ice chest, consider a backpack cooler that can be placed over both shoulders to distribute the load evenly. Similarly, selecting a lightweight chair that’s not too bulky and has a strap or a handle for carrying can make bringing along your seat a lot easier.
- Quick tip: If you have lots to pack, it may be worthwhile to bring along a rolling cart to reduce fatigue and manage all your belongings.
Waiting in lines
Waiting in long lines can cause physical and mental fatigue. Consider these strategies while queuing for bathrooms, food or drinks.
- Check your posture. Stand tall with your shoulders back, head level and feet shoulder-width apart. Try not to lock your knees and shift your weight from the right to left leg to engage those muscles.
- Wear good shoes. Having the right footwear can greatly improve your comfort and well-being during a long day at the fairgrounds. Festing fashion is all about function in this case; and don’t forget to keep the weather and ground conditions (like wet grass or mud) in mind when selecting your shoes.
Relax and indulge
One of the best parts of any festival is the opportunity to relax and treat yourself to some delicious food.
- Support your back. While kicking back, make sure you’re supporting your back. If you have the option, choose a chair with back support to promote good posture and reduce strain on your spine.
- Stretch out. Take a load off and relax by lying down on a blanket, either on your back or stomach, whatever feels best. Lying down for while can help you refresh and reset while giving you an opportunity to stretch out – just don’t forget to get up and move regularly.
- Grab a table. If you can, eating at a standing table near the food stalls or snagging a seat at a picnic table will help decrease postural strain and support better digestion while you’re indulging.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re ready to rock out to your favorite band.
- Stretch and rest. Between sets of your favorite acts, try these easy stretches:
- Reach down to touch your toes. Bend at the waist until you feel a good stretch in your legs.
- Reach up to the sky toward the festival flags.
- Bend side to side with your hands on your hips to engage your torso.
- Put your hands on your lower back and arch “limbo style” backwards until you feel a good stretch in your back.
- Take it slowly. Tame your dance moves to your own capabilities. It may not be best for your body to go from sedentary to solid gold dancer without a bit of prep.
- Hydrate. Making sure you’re staying hydrated is the best way to prevent dehydration and keep your body primed for busting those dance moves.
Think you’re ready to get up and go again tomorrow? Help your body recover ahead of time to ensure you’re at your best for the next fest.
- Care for your muscles and joints. Apply ice to any sore areas.
- Rehydrate. If you were out sweating and swaying to the tunes, an electrolyte beverage can help you replenish and rehydrate.
- Give yourself some TLC. Ever think you need a vacation after a vacation? The days after a festival can sometimes feel the same if you’ve pushed your body beyond its typical limits. If you can, take post-festival rest day to do some self-care or get a massage.
If you’re still feeling sore and stiff after a few days or have persistent pain, you may want to talk to your doctor or schedule a consultation with a physical therapist who can help identify any issues.
With a bit of planning and some help from these tips, we hope you can fest at your best all season long.