Tailgating Tips to Keep You in the Game

Written by Katie Langley, PT, PMA-CPT, of Therapeutic Pilates, LLC


Cowbells, coolers, and crowds… all the fun of football season in Starkville is upon us once again, and MSU hosts seven games! As always, one of the most anticipated highlights is SEC-style tailgating. Every serious fan knows a proper tailgate requires the perfect setup and that means stuff… lots and lots of stuff. Car battery, inverter, and LED TV? Yes. Tent, tables, and chairs? Yes. Ice chests and tons of delicious food and drink? Yes. Chandeliers? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Whoever you are, transporting all that gear from your vehicles to the prime tailgate spot without in- jury requires a smart game plan. Otherwise, a joint injury or painful flare up of irritated muscles could have you sidelined for the game, or even the entire season.

Here are four winning plays to add to your tailgating plan this year:

1. Be aware of your posture when sitting in a chair. The most common sling-style tailgating chairs offer insufficient support for your back, and can lead to pain and stiffness in your en- tire body. If you’ve ever noticed upper back and neck pain, or a bad headache after sitting in a slouched position, you’re not alone. It could be because your pelvis (your “base”) is placed in
a poor position, making proper alignment of all other joints and muscles along your spine chal- lenging. Prevent pain, soreness, and injury by sitting in a firmer chair, changing positions often, and spending plenty of time standing and walk- ing. Keeping your body moving is a great way to keep these issues at bay and literally take steps toward a healthier lifestyle!

2. Choose your shoes carefully, keeping in mind how far you’ll be walking. High heels might look great, but they change your center of gravity. This causes the entire body to make adjust- ments at various joints up the chain (ankles, knees, hips, spine) to balance and stand on an uneven surface. Instead, go for a sporty chic look and rock your newest pair of athletic shoes or flats. Choose a shoe with good support and adequate cushion. Doing this will have you ready to gain extra yardage even after the tailgate and game are over.

3. Invest in a cart or wagon to transport your heavy or awkward gear. For uphill climbs, re- member that pushing will require less effort and potential strain on your back. Find a teammate to push the cart from behind, using both hands and keeping their core straight and engaged. When carrying items, be sure to position the heaviest part of the load as close to the middle of your core as possible. When it comes to bags, opt for a backpack instead of a tote bag so the weight will be more evenly distributed.

4. The first few games in the season can be HOT! When your body doesn’t get enough water, multiple body systems are affected, including your muscular system. Just like the players, getting dehydrated can make you more prone to injury. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plen- ty of cold water and consume foods with higher water content (think fresh fruits and veggies). If you choose to imbibe, consider alternating with non- alcoholic beverages.
When integrated into your game plan, these four simple steps will help keep you in the game and enjoying the SEC lifestyle with your family and friends all season long. Who knows, you might need to stay healthy so you can root for the Bulldogs in the postseason… around New Years… or beyond! GO DAWGS!