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I’m With the Band: Eight Things I Learned as a Traveling Physical Therapist

Backstreet Boys, Guns N’ Roses, Madonna. Growing up we all had their posters on our walls.  We dreamed of what it would be like to tour the world, playing in front of screaming fans for the rest of our lives.

We never thought about what it would be like to still be singing the same songs over 20 years later.

There are reasons that most musicians don’t make it past the first hit, the first album, the first tour, and still come out the other side at the top of their game. However, there are those chosen few that do. I’ve had the privilege to tour the world with Korn as their physical therapist and learn the lessons about what it takes to not only survive, but to thrive more than 20 years after your first hit.

Sleeping habits should come #1

Sleep is how our bodies repair themselves – so needless to say it’s an important habit for rock stars. Riding on a tour bus and jostling back and forth all night for 8-10 hours, 7 days per week, 4 weeks at a time is hard on the body – and even worse on the mind. You wouldn’t think about how the slightest turn or bump in the road would be a big deal, until you are in your bunk trying to sleep and you think the bus is about ready to tip over.  Let’s just say that it is nearly impossible to sleep through an entire night, let alone a few hours without waking. However, I learned that if I could control my sleep environment and habits (whenever possible), I rested better and woke up more refreshed. The takeaway? When working with patients (or even yourself), make sure that efficient sleep is a top priority in their care plan. Also, the use of white noise, a good body pillow, calming teas, and a good meal can’t hurt.

Don’t listen to the excuses

Excuses are everywhere (and they’re loud). Don’t take the time to listen! There were always excuses in my own mind as to why I shouldn’t exercise that day or eat right and they seemed logical at the time. I was tired, my body was sore, I didn’t sleep well. The longer I listened to them the louder they got. So I simply stopped listening. Nobody likes to workout in unfamiliar places with different equipment. However, when every day is different, you have to come up with solutions. I would go to different gyms with the band, lead workouts in the dressing rooms or hotel rooms, work with catering on healthy food preparation, and encourage and motivate the band and crew when the tour got long.

Simply MOVE!

Move what you can, when you can, while you can.  If you feel stuck, you probably are. Make a change in your current lifestyle and get up and move (a great resolution if you’re looking for one!). For the band and I, that often meant taking the stairs when possible, walking the long route back to the hotel or venue and making challenges or competitions out of every day scenarios (last one to the hotel buys dinner!). These are easy modifications that almost anyone can slot into their current lifestyle.

Make a plan

Without a plan, the excuses get louder. Waking up in a different city, state, or country daily can be overwhelming, especially when you are overseas and the locals speak a different language. So in order to keep myself healthy while traveling for long periods, I had to plan ahead. I had to plan out my exercises down to a specific location. If we were going to have a day off, I would look at the hotel gym pictures and plan out our workouts. When we were on the road, I had to get more creative. Whether it was running all of the stairs at the Forum in Los Angeles or doing a 100-burpee challenge in Germany, I developed a plan. So, simply have a plan and carry it out.

Surround yourself with greatness

If you want to be at the top of your game, surround yourself with people that have the same mindset and drive. Don’t waste your time with people who find every reason why something can’t be done. I watched Korn surround themselves with experts in their field, from lighting, sound, staging, and digital graphics to tour management and physical therapists. Everyone in this circle made each other better, more accountable and less excuse ridden. In your clinic, this means that you should strive to hire the best you can find and surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

What comes out of your mouth matters

When times get hard, you’re tired, bored, etc., the temptation will be to voice those problems to others and in doing so, drag them down with you. This could have been a real problem for me since I worked primarily with the lead singer.  Trust me, there is nothing more terrifying than seeing him throw a roll of Kinesio tape across the stage when there are over five thousand people between you and him.  It means the tape job you did before the show didn’t work and now you have to get through those people, to the stage, and prep to tape him again before the song is done.  He could have ripped me out and ruined my day. Instead, he would laugh about it and give me a hard time. We figured out that it mattered more about what type of fabric his kilt was made out of than my skills at taping.  This took time, but we were able to work through it and find a solution to not have this problem again.  So share the problem with those that can help, make a plan on how to fix it, and invite everyone into the solution – not the problem.

Keeping up is easier than catching up

With any obstacle, if you do not address it head on, it will get larger and larger. In this instance, ignorance is not bliss.  Instead, grinding it out on a daily basis, such as with exercise or good nutrition, is easier than trying to recover from a heart attack or injury.  The number one thing I heard on tour was “I’ve always played this way.”  While that is true, it is also probably why a lot of heavy metal lead singers, including James Hetfield and Cory Taylor have had to have spinal surgery.  Address the problems before they get bigger and require major life changes.

Remember you are already a rock star to someone

Whether it is a patient who you treated, your child who drinks in your every move, or a spouse who rests on the strength and security you provide, you are a rock star.  They may not have your picture on a poster hanging on the wall, but you and what you do hangs high in their hearts.

So start NOW!

Get UP!  MOVE!  Make a Plan!  Invite Greatness!  Rest Well!

BE THE ROCK STAR!

One thought on “I’m With the Band: Eight Things I Learned as a Traveling Physical Therapist

  1. I am so glad that I took the time to read this. It’s very well-written and contains information that pertains to all. Keep up the good work!

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