Self-Care For Touring Musicians
Life on the road sounds like a dream come true. For all of the romantic overtones, though, the cold, hard truth is traveling on a regular basis can be downright exhausting. That’s why it’s important to head out on tour with a plan in place.
There are many basic things you can do in order to keep yourself up and running — like sleeping well, eating healthy, and so on. However, sometimes a bit of focused self-care is required in order to truly thrive while cooped up in a vehicle and sleeping in strange places for days on end.
If you’re on the road (or soon will be) and are looking for some ways to help keep your health strong and your spirits up, look no further. Here are some tips and tricks to keep yourself in tip-top condition while on the road.
Consider Lumbar Support
First thing’s first: If you’re a regular musical adventurer, you’re already well-aware of how incredibly painful sitting down all day can be. It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing a bench or you have a roomy bucket seat all to yourself — sooner or later, your back is going to start aching.
To help address this problem, make sure to keep ergonomics in mind as much as gas mileage, price, and durability when you go to purchase your tour transportation. Look for seats that have independent, adjustable features like height and tilt adjustments, along with good lumbar support.
If you already have a vehicle and it lacks these bells and whistles, you’re not stuck dealing with unnecessary aches. All you have to do is look for a good back support that you can install in your seat. There are plenty of carefully crafted car seat lumbar supports available. If you can’t get your hands on one of these, at least bring a pillow or something comfortable along to stick behind you when that pain starts building.
It’s also important to take breaks regularly while in motion. It’s recommended that you take at least a 15-minute break for every two hours of driving. This break should not be a simple, quick pit stop. Make sure to stop in order to properly rest and stretch your legs on a regular basis.
Of course, every minute isn’t spent on stage or in a van on tour. There is also a significant amount of time spent sleeping — typically in every kind of (often low-quality) accommodation imaginable. The truth is, unless you’re the Jonas Brothers or Rihanna, you probably can’t afford to travel in luxury. If that’s the case, then you’re going to want to genuinely consider your long-term sleep situation.
First thing’s first: Try to bring your own ergonomic pillow. If you’re serious about your sleep (and you have the room), you may even want to think about purchasing a small, quality mattress. Bringing your own mattress allows you to control things like firmness for back pain. If you’re touring during the summer, it can also be worth looking for a mattress that helps you stay cool when you’re forced to sleep in hotter climates.
Use Tech to Guard Your Mind
A classic struggle on the road is simply staying pulled together, mentally speaking. When left unchecked, endless hours keeping the same company in a crowded vehicular environment is enough to drive anyone insane. If you can relate to the fear of mental instability while on tour — and, like most of us, you can’t afford to bring a therapist along for the ride — you may want to consider getting a mental wellness app or two on your smartphone.
There are a plethora of different options out there these days which can help with everything from anxiety and stress to depression. Mobilyze, for instance, helps track your activity, social interactions, and locale in order to head off and help prevent spells of depression. Live OCD Free is another app that helps curb obsession and encourages relaxation. It can be highly beneficial to do a little homework and try to find a mental wellness app or two that works for you.
Tend to the Small Stuff
Finally, there are those little things that can sneak up on you when you least expect it. For example, it’s typically recommended to visit the doctor before you hit the road for an extended trip. It’s good advice. But don’t forget to also schedule in a trip to the dentist too. Your mouth is strangely instrumental to your overall health. Having properly cleaned teeth and gums when you set out can be a huge boon to your overall physical success while traveling.
Also, always remember to pack those two iconic preventatives: bug spray and sunblock. You never know where you’ll find yourself on tour, and if it’s hot or buggy, it’s best to be prepared. If you do find yourself caught in the sun and develop sunburn, it’s also helpful to have something available to treat the problem. Aloe vera gel is helpful for basic burns, while stronger things like ibuprofen or topical anesthetics can help with more severe cases.
Finally, make sure to stay hydrated. This obviously goes for musicians but can be particularly important for roadies who do so much of the heavy lifting. While opinions vary, it’s generally recommended that the average adult should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Yes, that may equate to more pit stops along your route, but the health benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.
Self-Care While on Tour
Whether you’re supporting your back, communing with your mental wellness app, or chugging that eighth glass of water as the day draws to a close, it really is worth it to go above and beyond in order to keep yourself in good shape while on the road.
It’s easy to lose sight of your mental or physical condition while focused on getting to each show on time. That’s why it’s important to make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. A little self-care really can make a world of difference in keeping yourself in a healthy enough condition to rock each and every leg of your tour.