Tips for Touring Musicians: 10 Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Body on the Road

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Musicians are on the road almost constantly these days, which means they can’t always live healthily. But it’s not a 0-sum game. Here are a few pro-tips for taking care of your body.

It’s easy when living the rock star lifestyle to put your health on the back burner.  And plenty of times, it’s not rock star living — just managing a demanding schedule with endless practical headaches.

Typically, you’re staying up late to play shows and you don’t necessarily make the best choices when it comes to what you eat and drink.  However, musicians need to take care of their body just like everyone else.

As touring becomes a critical profit source for artists, staying healthy becomes incredibly important.  The last thing you want is to get sick and have to cancel show dates.  Sometimes that’s unavoidable: after all, the human body gets sick.  But here are 10 tricks to take care of your health while you’re on the road.

1) Stay Hydrated

Seems basic, but this one piece of advice goes a long way.  Of course, tour body needs water to stay healthy. Many Americans walk around dehydrated and mistake their dehydration for hunger.

When you’re constantly traveling, it can be difficult to remember to drink water.  But you should be getting at least 2 liters of water every day.  Ideally even more, since you’re moving around and sweating so much during your shows.

So carry a portable water bottle in your bag, and take small sips throughout the day.  You’ll probably notice a nice bump in energy.

2) Work It Out

A lot of people forgo exercise when they’re on the road because they don’t have access to their usual gym.  It’s just too hectic, and tour busses (or vans, or cars) aren’t exactly the best for working out.

But don’t let that become an excuse.  For starters, there are a number of free workout videos you have access to on the web. There are plenty of routines you can do with no equipment at all.  And you don’t really need a lot of space, at least for most workout routines.

For example: jumping jacks and running in place make for great cardio, while lunges, push-ups, and squats take care of your resistance training.

Even a little will go a long way.  All you need is 20 minutes a day to get in a solid workout. You don’t have to devote hours and hours to it.  You just need something that gets your heart pumping and your muscles burning.

3) Pack Healthy Snacks

It can be so tempting on the road to just pull into a Taco Bell or McDonald’s and eat burgers and fries for the duration of your tour.  It’s just so easy — and always right on the side of the road.

But over time, this eating behavior can wreak havoc on your health.  Instead, stock up on healthy snacks that will last you a long time like carrot sticks and whole grain tortilla chips. Nuts and grapes are other examples of healthy snacks.  You can typically load up on these healthier foods at supermarkets along the way.

You’ll notice the results, over the short-term and long-term.  Simply stated: healthy snacks will give you more energy in the long run and keep you healthy.

4) Stretch

This one is frequently overlooked.  But spending too many consecutive hours cramped in a car or tour van is bad for your body.  Same thing with planes, trains, or any other long-haul transportation method.

It’s important to take rest stops where you get out and walk around.  Do stretches for your hamstrings and quads as those are the muscles that get cramped while sitting.  If you’re on an airplane, try to stand up and do some stretching — at least every few hours (if not more frequently).

Also, try to develop a routine where you stretch before bed or first thing when you wake up.  You will soon notice that you feel more limber and you’ll start getting better and better at stretching.  It’s good for musicians to have the mobility that stretching provides.

That will improve your on-stage presence, especially if you have a more active show.  And if dancing is part of your act, stretching and overall health becomes critical to good performances.

5) See a Chiropractor

A musician’s touring lifestyle can definitely cause a lot of strain on your back.  And the benefits of seeing a chiropractor include alleviating that pain and getting back to feeling great.  So it’s worth doing before, during, or after a trek, depending on when you can squeeze it in.

No one should have to live with a tense back all the time.

6) Take a Multivitamin

This one’s pretty easy.

Even if you’re eating healthy, your diet is probably deficient in one vitamin or another.  A multivitamin can help fill in a diet that’s deficient in nutrients.  Even better: a multi-vitamin pack can be found at any drug store, before or during the tour.

7) Take Days off When You’re Sick

If you start to feel sick, the best thing you can do is to rest and take a night off.  If at all possible.

Of course, the worst thing you can do for your body is trying to power through shows when you’re under the weather.  Your body can’t heal without plenty of rest and fluids.  If you try to keep playing, you’ll end up even sicker and will be forced to miss more shows.

Of course, in many cases the show must go on. But if possible, try to move things around.  You can always apologize to your fans and reschedule the show at that location on a later date.

Listen to your body, and give it the attention it needs to get better.

8) See a Doctor

Just because you’re touring doesn’t mean you can just ignore your health.  You should still be getting annual checkups from a physician to make sure you’re healthy.  There are a lot of health issues that could be lurking beneath the surface that are better to detect sooner rather than later.

A doctor can also give you advice on ways to stay healthy that match your lifestyle.

9) Take Care of Your Sexual Health

When you’re on tour you’re probably meeting a lot of people and that can lead to sexual encounters.

Have some fun, but try to take care of yourself and your partner sexually by using protection. Condoms are a good way to protect yourself from STDs. Birth control is an avenue to ensure you or the one you’re with don’t end up pregnant.

10) Mind Your Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health.  And it’s a major and growing issue for many musicians.

So if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, it’s important you take care of those things as well. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help dealing with your mental health.

Take Care of Your Body on the Road!

It’s really, really easy to let your health slip while on the road.  Musicians can easily get caught up in the excitement and prioritize music above health. However, keeping up with your health is the only way to ensure you can keep playing as a musician.  At the end of the day, nothing is more important than your health — and the only way to make a living is to healthily make it from gig to gig, while playing high-energy, great shows.

So be sure to drink enough water, eat healthy foods, and work out regularly to keep yourself healthy. If you do get sick, take it easy for a few days while your body heals itself. If that doesn’t work, go see a doctor.