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Dealing with bad backs

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Does anyone else suffer with a bad back?  I've had a back problems for a few years now and I always suffer at Glastonbury but this year was particularly bad, to the point where 2 of the nights I could barely walk back to my tent at the end of the night.

I went to see someone in the healing field on Thursday, which did give me relief for that day but I was back to normal by the next afternoon.  It did get me down at points as I'm still relatively young (ish!) and I see people 20+ years my senior going at it longer and harder than I can sometimes.  Many times I have to cut the night short sooner than I would like due to the pain and I need to sit down all the time too.

Does anyone else suffer and if so how do you deal with it at the festival and is there anything you can recommend to help me prepare for next year?  I really need to try and get this sorted.

(Sorry if this comes across as a moan, I know there are lots of people in worse positions than me)

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Sorry to hear that @Cream Soda.  

Standing up for long periods gave me a whole load of trouble in the mud bath that was 2016.  Very few spaces to sit....and I'd lost my shooting stick, which I'd used to help rehabilitate a broken ankle back in 2011 and taken to Glasto ever since.  Back got so bad in 2016 that one night I nearly fell over, as my back kind of gave way.  Problems persisted after I got back home.  I eventually had an MRI scan which showed damage to a disc in my lumbar spine. Whether I had a preexisting injury that was exacerbated by Glasto, or whether damage occurred during Glasto, I'll never know.   

I really sympathise with you, as back pain can make a festival a rather miserable affair at times.  For next time I'd really recommend you invest in a shooting stick.  Fairly lightweight and you can rest your back wherever you are.

More to the point, if you were experiencing such extreme pain I would be tempted go to your GP and push for an MRI scan to check for damage.  Pretty important to check for this and rule it out.   

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I've found that switching to a camp bed instead of an air bed / self inflating mattress makes a huge difference to me - though that's obviously going to be different for everyone so your mileage may vary.

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9 minutes ago, warriormonk said:

Sorry to hear that @Cream Soda.  

Standing up for long periods gave me a whole load of trouble in the mud bath that was 2016.  Very few spaces to sit....and I'd lost my shooting stick, which I'd used to help rehabilitate a broken ankle back in 2011 and taken to Glasto ever since.  Back got so bad in 2016 that one night I nearly fell over, as my back kind of gave way.  Problems persisted after I got back home.  I eventually had an MRI scan which showed damage to a disc in my lumbar spine. Whether I had a preexisting injury that was exacerbated by Glasto, or whether damage occurred during Glasto, I'll never know.   

I really sympathise with you, as back pain can make a festival a rather miserable affair at times.  For next time I'd really recommend you invest in a shooting stick.  Fairly lightweight and you can rest your back wherever you are.

More to the point, if you were experiencing such extreme pain I would be tempted go to your GP and push for an MRI scan to check for damage.  Pretty important to check for this and rule it out.   

Thanks @warriormonk , I did actually have an MRI a few years ago but they found nothing untoward.  Had physio too, pretty sure all this stems from a knee injury I did some time ago, I think I started walking funny to compensate for that somehow but no one seems able to pinpoint anything wrong.  I think after this experience at the weekend I might need to go back and ask them to take another look because something isn't right.  As for the shooting stick, I'd never heard of those before so will take a look, cheers.

4 minutes ago, incident said:

I've found that switching to a camp bed instead of an air bed / self inflating mattress makes a huge difference to me - though that's obviously going to be different for everyone so your mileage may vary.

I did actually try a self inflating mattress for this first time this year as I usually use an airbed and I did prefer it,  maybe a camp bed would be even better though...will try anything at this point

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If you were using a different sleeping mat this year, it would be worth investigating whether that had anything to do with it.  I can't get on with self-inflating mats as they're too thin so give me dead arms and sore hips.  This leaves me sleeping in weird positions which can result in back problems.  My solution was an airbed, and I'm now using one of the type which has lots of narrow full-length tubes rather than the standard squishy balloon jobs - it gives loads of support whilst being soft and comfortable.  Other people will no doubt have the opposite experience to me - the only solution is to try stuff out.  (Going round the festival site on Monday, you could have harvested loads of different types of sleeping mats and gone to town testing them out.)

Other than that, as you've already been checked out for serious underlying problems, it's down to general sensible advice.  Make sure you don't slouch when you sit, if you're carrying a heavy backpack try to make sure it's supported on your hips/waist rather than your shoulders, try to strengthen your 'core' muscles (kayaking is a good one, but Google will give you more practical alternatives) and try to stretch your hamstrings as this will allow you to sit upright on the ground more easily.  Look for a YouTube video showing how to do hamstring stretches in a doorframe.

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35 minutes ago, Mark E. Spliff said:

 try to strengthen your 'core' muscles (kayaking is a good one, but Google will give you more practical alternatives) and try to stretch your hamstrings as this will allow you to sit upright on the ground more easily.  Look for a YouTube video showing how to do hamstring stretches in a doorframe.

I do think this is key for me actually, I don't have a very active lifestyle at the moment and I work sitting down all day which really doesn't help.  I definitely need to start trying to do more..

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5 hours ago, incident said:

I've found that switching to a camp bed instead of an air bed / self inflating mattress makes a huge difference to me - though that's obviously going to be different for everyone so your mileage may vary.

I sleep on my front - is that a possible thing with a camp bed? I’d like to give one a bash really . . . 

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2 hours ago, balti-pie said:

I sleep on my front - is that a possible thing with a camp bed? I’d like to give one a bash really . . . 

No idea to be honest. But Go Outdoors usually have most of the ones they offer set up so that you can try them out - I'd say go to your local branch and have a bit of a rest.

I sleep on my side and have used the most basic 15-20 quid type for many years and find it works a treat for me, though I'm going to upgrade to a slightly fancier model soon I think.

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Do you bung a little self inflating mat on top? I don’t sleep in my sleeping bag, it’s too restrictive - I open it out like a one man duvet. But I think I’d need to make the camp bed part a bit more yielding than just the canvas! 

I’m a bit over my blowup mattress, it weighs a ton and deflates annoyingly quickly. But it is easy to turn into a bed-like surface! And I’m loath to replace it while it still has some life in it: I want to run it til it dies 

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No, I just use the Camp Bed + Sleeping Bag, albeit more of a pod style sleeping bag compared to most so I've got some space to move around inside - you'd definitely need a layer of sorts between yourself and the bed, aside from anything else it'd get seriously cold without it.

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I’m in total sympathy and following this thread with interest ... I struggled at times myself and the only thing that would help me was having periods of lying down flat on my back on a self inflator and the hard ground .... it just seemed to get worse as the day went on ... I’ve previously had bad backs but recently it’s been lots better .. I swim lots and thinking about something like Pilates to improve core now 

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17 minutes ago, crazyfool1 said:

I’m in total sympathy and following this thread with interest ... I struggled at times myself and the only thing that would help me was having periods of lying down flat on my back on a self inflator and the hard ground .... it just seemed to get worse as the day went on ... I’ve previously had bad backs but recently it’s been lots better .. I swim lots and thinking about something like Pilates to improve core now 

It's rotten isn't it.  Pilates is supposed to be really good for that sort of thing.  I used to do yoga myself but ended up injuring my knee which I think was the start of all this so that's put me off a bit, but I know I really need to start doing something again...

I really don't want a repeat of this next festival so I've gone and booked in to see a chiropractor next week.  I know there are definitely things I can do to help myself but I also think there is an underlying issue too, so I'll be interested to see what they have to say

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11 minutes ago, Cream Soda said:

It's rotten isn't it.  Pilates is supposed to be really good for that sort of thing.  I used to do yoga myself but ended up injuring my knee which I think was the start of all this so that's put me off a bit, but I know I really need to start doing something again...

I really don't want a repeat of this next festival so I've gone and booked in to see a chiropractor next week.  I know there are definitely things I can do to help myself but I also think there is an underlying issue too, so I'll be interested to see what they have to say

ive seen chiropractors before and for me they do provide temporary respite ... i should follow the exercise regimes better though ... makes me feel old before my time as my general fitness is quite good ... especially as ive lost a few kgs at the festival and a few before that ... the repeat for the 50th won't be happening :) 

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On 7/3/2019 at 1:04 PM, Cream Soda said:

Does anyone else suffer with a bad back?  I've had a back problems for a few years now and I always suffer at Glastonbury but this year was particularly bad, to the point where 2 of the nights I could barely walk back to my tent at the end of the night.

I went to see someone in the healing field on Thursday, which did give me relief for that day but I was back to normal by the next afternoon.  It did get me down at points as I'm still relatively young (ish!) and I see people 20+ years my senior going at it longer and harder than I can sometimes.  Many times I have to cut the night short sooner than I would like due to the pain and I need to sit down all the time too.

Does anyone else suffer and if so how do you deal with it at the festival and is there anything you can recommend to help me prepare for next year?  I really need to try and get this sorted.

(Sorry if this comes across as a moan, I know there are lots of people in worse positions than me)

I suffer from sciatica which can limit me to walking for only half a mile or so at its worst. Fortunately at G this year it was not so bad so I got around me at places I wanted to albeit rather slowly.

As you have no identified underlying damage I would strongly recommend visiting a physiotherapist. They will assess you and prescribe exercises (and possibly medicines) that are appropriate to you, the results can be quite startling. Once you have that assessment it may be worthwhile visiting a chiropractor or osteopath too although physios usually have little good to say about them. Again, once you are assessed you could also consider accupuncture for pain relief. 

Ultimately the better shape you can keep yourself in the easier things will be. I tend to cycle a lot as it doesn't trigger my sciatica and I can get a spurt on.

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57 minutes ago, HalfAnIdiot said:

I suffer from sciatica which can limit me to walking for only half a mile or so at its worst. Fortunately at G this year it was not so bad so I got around me at places I wanted to albeit rather slowly.

As you have no identified underlying damage I would strongly recommend visiting a physiotherapist. They will assess you and prescribe exercises (and possibly medicines) that are appropriate to you, the results can be quite startling. Once you have that assessment it may be worthwhile visiting a chiropractor or osteopath too although physios usually have little good to say about them. Again, once you are assessed you could also consider accupuncture for pain relief. 

Ultimately the better shape you can keep yourself in the easier things will be. I tend to cycle a lot as it doesn't trigger my sciatica and I can get a spurt on.

I've seen physiotherapists and no one can find anything wrong.  They gave me exercises to strengthen my knee after my injury which did help, but they were at a bit of a loss with my back like everyone else seems to be.  Really frustrating :(  Seeing a chiropractor next week so hopefully they can do something to help me.

I do really need to sort my fitness out though, its just hard fitting it in around work etc especially when I have a very non-physical job but I know I can't keep making excuses anymore.

Glad you didn't suffer too much this year, do you put that down to anything in particular or did you just take it steady?

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TBH I was amazed how well I did. I did have to resort to Paracetamol/codein mix at one point, which I don't like to do as it makes me very drowsy.

I intensified the physio for a couple of weeks prior too, so maybe that helped.

Are you happy with your physio? They are not all created equal.

Having said all that, I think you have the right idea to improve your fitness levels. It'll pay back in lots of ways. Easy to say, I know, but it can be hard to find the motivation. Some people seem to benefit from fitness trackers (apps or devices), maybe that's worth a go.

 

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Whilst I certainly take no joy in other people suffering it is equally nice to know that you're not on your own! I wasn't successful with tickets this year but my back has been a problem for me in festivals gone by. My pain is lower back and I really start to feel the deep ache after standing still watching a band etc for more than 20 mins. I find it helps to either sit on a chair or lay flat on my back and bring one knee to my chest and hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then the same for the other knee, then both together*. This doesn't fix the pain entirely but offers a pretty instant release/loosener.

*I'm no medical professional just sharing what works for me!

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9 minutes ago, HalfAnIdiot said:

Are you happy with your physio? They are not all created equal.

I haven't seen anyone for a couple of years now.  I've since moved to a new area so if nothing comes from the chiropractor I might go back to the GP and start the process again, I know these things vary quite a bit depending on where you live.

6 minutes ago, CajunMoon said:

Whilst I certainly take no joy in other people suffering it is equally nice to know that you're not on your own!

I feel the same, don't wish this on anyone but it is comforting to know other people get it!  It's hard sometimes when you look around at everyone looking seemingly pain free and you feel like you're the only one!

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Definitely get it checked out. It’s what you pay your taxes for! Assuming you get the all-clear, gradually work on some core and back-strengthening exercises. I’m no expert, but I have heard before that the injuries elsewhere can cause back issues, I imagine physio could help with that so push for a referral.

I know people hate chairs, but I suffered from a bad back during my two pregnancies and went to Glastonbury for both. I found this style of chair useful as it fits into a day backpack, is very light and very supportive of your back. I found sitting with some proper support (ie not on the floor or on a bench) essential at times: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HNKHSY6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_IFriDbH7PQH83

Edited by Blueberry

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On 7/5/2019 at 1:06 PM, Cream Soda said:

I haven't seen anyone for a couple of years now.  I've since moved to a new area so if nothing comes from the chiropractor I might go back to the GP and start the process again, I know these things vary quite a bit depending on where you live.

I feel the same, don't wish this on anyone but it is comforting to know other people get it!  It's hard sometimes when you look around at everyone looking seemingly pain free and you feel like you're the only one!

Thought about this s today. I'm in the same boat. But when you look around you you also see a lot of people sitting down. A lot of those will be taking a break from back/leg/foot/whatever problems. Your not alone, even if it feels that way.

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10 hours ago, Blueberry said:

Definitely get it checked out. It’s what you pay your taxes for! Assuming you get the all-clear, gradually work on some core and back-strengthening exercises. I’m no expert, but I have heard before that the injuries elsewhere can cause back issues, I imagine physio could help with that so push for a referral.

I know people hate chairs, but I suffered from a bad back during my two pregnancies and went to Glastonbury for both. I found this style of chair useful as it fits into a day backpack, is very light and very supportive of your back. I found sitting with some proper support (ie not on the floor or on a bench) essential at times: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HNKHSY6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_IFriDbH7PQH83

Kind of given up on the gp/physio route as I've had no success in the past, hence seeing the chiropractor (privately) on Tuesday, but if I get no joy then maybe I will give it another try.  I don't go to the doctor much but when I do I seem to get monumentally fobbed off no matter what the problem is, maybe I need to get better at asserting myself.

Chair looks good, it's a tough one though isn't it because I already carry enough crap around in my bag all day (definitely want to try and decrease that next year) and a chair is another thing to carry which is no good for the back...I also wish I didn't need a chair, I just want to be normal for my age 😭 but maybe I do need to admit defeat.

7 hours ago, HalfAnIdiot said:

Thought about this s today. I'm in the same boat. But when you look around you you also see a lot of people sitting down. A lot of those will be taking a break from back/leg/foot/whatever problems. Your not alone, even if it feels that way.

Thanks,  that helps ☺️

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11 hours ago, Cream Soda said:

Chair looks good, it's a tough one though isn't it because I already carry enough crap around in my bag all day (definitely want to try and decrease that next year) and a chair is another thing to carry which is no good for the back...I also wish I didn't need a chair, I just want to be normal for my age 😭 but maybe I do need to admit defeat.

Yes, it’s rubbish when your health doesn’t match your numerical age (or the age you fee. I’m genuinely sorry this has happened to you. 

On a more practical note, try using the lock ups more so you’re carting less stuff about (eg put your jumper and some more booze in a bag for life in a lock up near a stage where you intend to see your headliner). 

Definitely try to also build your general fitness, particularly your core and pelvic floor as if these are weak they can cause backache. 

Hope Tuesday is a success. Keep us posted

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On 7/3/2019 at 2:59 PM, Cream Soda said:

 Had physio too, pretty sure all this stems from a knee injury I did some time ago, I think I started walking funny to compensate for that somehow 

As someone who’s psoriatic arthritis has (touch wood) gone into remission - I can totally empathise with how pain can really get to you. 

My advice; given what you’ve said above is to try and seek out a Feldenkrais practitioner http://www.feldenkrais.co.uk/ - it’s not an overnight cure; I went down the route of doing 1-2-1 sessions. 

But it has really helped with how I hold my body and help my brain body relearn ways of moving; after holding myself in a very protective way to ward against further pain but which has had other unintended consequences. 

It’s a very strange experience when you get into it as lots of the sessions you come out physically feeling wonky and having to resist the urge to shake your limbs out as your brain try’s to over-rule you (sorry it doesn’t make much sense till you’ve done it - I also had one session where I just uncontrollably started sobbing but in a good way!)

I’ve tried everything under the sun over the years but this particular method worked best for me. 

BTW - chiropractor for me was one of the worse experiences; might be worth doing a bit of research into why!

Edited by Another eforum account

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12 hours ago, Blueberry said:

On a more practical note, try using the lock ups more so you’re carting less stuff about (eg put your jumper and some more booze in a bag for life in a lock up near a stage where you intend to see your headliner). 

I definitely need to do this, I saw lots of people not carrying bags and did wonder how they manage without the essentials (suncream, water, etc), but I could definitely make better use of the lockups with a bit of planning.

 

11 hours ago, Another eforum account said:

 My advice; given what you’ve said above is to try and seek out a Feldenkrais practitioner http://www.feldenkrais.co.uk/ - it’s not an overnight cure; I went down the route of doing 1-2-1 sessions. 

BTW - chiropractor for me was one of the worse experiences; might be worth doing a bit of research into why!

Thanks, I've never heard of this, I am going to look into it now.  I hear mixed reviews about chiropractors, like most things, some people swear by them others say avoid like the plague.  What was your experience?

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I suffer from sciatica and 2016 nearly finished me off for doing Glastonbury. 

This year it was a breeze:-

I went on a diet and went from Obese to over-weight.

Had four trips to a sports therapist, got some exercises to do and had massage/physio in the 3 weeks before.

Took a small bag of spirits and goodies into the festival each day (no rucksack on my back all day).

Hiking boots with Gel inserts are the future, so much better than trainers/wellies.

Biggest win was having a campervan and not a tent, it sounds like a luxury, but any health issues and its the difference between night/day.

A decent night's sleep on a real bed where your back doesn't get cold/damp meant I was able to do the entire festival on Paracetamol, alcohol and recreational drugs - whereas 2016 was Oxycontin, Voltorol, and mainly soft drinks.

If I'm lucky in October the plan is to get down to the lower end of "over-weight" and to build up my "Core strength" as the physio said it would help support my lower back, which would help protect the damaged nerves.

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