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Perhaps there have been long rehearsals for that crucial recital, and now you notice stabbing pains in your forearms. Or you find yourself struggling with hands that have become increasingly clumsy, or numb. It may be that you are even waking up at night with pain in your arms, or your back, or your neck.
Well, it's just a part of being a serious musician, right? And after all, you can't stop practicing - there's too much at stake, and music is your very life! Does this sound familiar? Instrumental musicians are a special risk group for repetitive motion injuries. Sizable percentages of them develop physical problems related to playing their instruments; and if they are also computer users, their risks are compounded and complicated.
My own computer-induced tendinitis was very much aggravated by my guitar and violin playing and did not begin to improve until I stopped all playing for several months. Instrumental injuries often include the same conditions experienced from computer overuse: But the particular demands of different instruments produce other problems as well, including hearing loss or TemporoMandibular Joints Disorder.
Note this new site from the TMJ Association. Incorrect posture, non-ergonomic technique, excessive force, overuse, stress, and insufficient rest contribute to chronic injuries that can cause great pain, disability, and the end of careers. But while these problems are unfortunately common, it's NOT an unavoidable part of being a musician.
If we're willing to listen to what's being learned in the field of arts medicine, we may be able to escape the bullet of occupational injury and recover our ability to play.
What Can You Do? Take time to read the resources listed below. Causes and prevention are a complex topic, as Jonas Sen's excellent thesis makes clear.
Again, the materials listed have much more information, but in general musicians often need to reduce force, find postures that keep joints in the middle of their range of motion, use larger muscle groups when possible, and reduce body usage that involves fixed, tensed positions.
Athletes do not abruptly start vigorous physical activity without warming up and stretching because they know it is an invitation to injury. Musicians are putting athletic demands on fine motor musculature and should similarly be religious about warming up before practice or performance.
This means both momentary breaks every few minutes and longer breaks every hour or so. This may be the single most important thing to remember.
Constant tension and repetitive motion does not allow the body to flush away metabolic waste products and this is traumatic to tissues over time. Even in the middle of playing a piece you may have a moment to relax a hand or arm to restore circulation.
The marathon rehearsals that musicians pride themselves on have great potential to hurt us. Emerging research on athletes reveals that overtraining actually decreases performance. Try two or more shorter rehearsals in a day rather than one long, intense session, and limit total time on your instrument.
It is very common for musicians to notice injury when we areAffordable Papers is an online writing service which has helped students from the UK, US, and Europe for more than 10 years.
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