Musicians “move” people, it’s time for musicians to “move”…

Music has always been a very important part of my life, especially rock-n-roll.  My earliest memories of music were the great tunes of the 70’s.  I had the privilege of growing up in a large family as the second to the youngest, and my older siblings always had the 70’s music blasting on the hi-fi.  Until 15 years ago, in my opinion, the only music was rock-n-roll; then I had the life altering experience of being introduced to the wonderful world of opera and orchestral music.

The Met

I will never forget my first experience at the Metropolitan Opera.  Luciano Pavarotti singing Tosca and the next night Placido Domingo in Otello.  Even though this experience happened over 15 years ago, I will never forget the dramatic way the famous Met chandeliers float away and the grand red curtain revealing the most famous opera stage in the world.  My wonderment soon turned into goosebumps as the orchestra began to play and the singers began to sing.  I remember asking, “Where are the microphones and speakers?”  When I was told there are none, my interest for orchestra music and opera singers was born.

Do Musicians Train Their Bodies?

Without intermissions, Tosca is almost 2 hours long with Otello even a bit longer.  As a life long student of the body, I was most amazed by the stamina of the singers and the musicians.  At times opera singers are wearing extremely heavy costumes, carrying heavy props and acting difficult scenes on stage, not to mention projecting their voices throughout a large theatre. Equally impressive, musicians have to support heavy instruments for hours at a time in difficult postures.  I remember thinking – they all must have intense fitness and diet programs to maintain health and the physical ability to perform their jobs. But, as I learned over the years, many singer and musicians do not have regimented wellness programs and many of them suffer health conditions, multiple injuries and many career ending injuries.

Musicians Get Injured Just Like Athletes  

Statistics show that 50% or more of adult classical musicians and 20% of students have suffered significant pain or disability from playing their instruments according to a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.  Some of these injuries end very promising careers.

Another paper stated that 70% of musicians polled had suffered an instrument-related injury with a third of them unable to play for an extended period of time.  Many of the injuries involve those that play a string instrument and tend to strike women more than men.

Types Of Injuries Amongst Musicians 

The ailments musicians suffer are as varied as their styles.  The repetitive strain from holding instruments, plucking strings, pulling a bow, cocking the head to one side for extended periods or striking keys and drums often leads to arthritis, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, neck pain, low back pain and shoulder pain.  There seems to be a predominance of shoulder, thoracic and cervical spine injuries among musicians.

What Can Musicians Do?

Just like athletes, longevity is the name of the game.  Musicians should treat their bodies like athletes, because playing an instrument is very demanding on the human body.  All musicians should perform a proper warm up prior to playing; performing specific postural strengthening exercises are key, not just to support the body but also the instrument for hours at a time.  In my opinion at a minimum all musicians should be performing some specific myofascial stretching and ELDOA exercises to prevent injuries.  These exercises can be done at home or on the road in a matter of minutes with just a comfortable mat.  A few minutes a day can literally make or break a promising musical career.

What Is Myofascial Stretching And ELDOA?

Fascia is the skin of all muscles, organs and glands.  It is the connective tissue of the body.  With the repetitive motions of musicians, the fascia tend to get tight thus restricting the flow of water, blood, cerebral spinal fluid and other vital nutrients causing injury.  An analytical myofascial stretching program restores the proper tension in the muscles, organs, glands, nerves and blood vessels.  Myofascial stretching is imperative to prevent and relieve carpal tunnel pain. ELDOA as a result is paramount for all musicians.  If I could pick one method of exercise for all athletes and musicians, it is the ELDOA every time.  The ELDOA is a postural exercise that gives space to the targeted joints.  Performing the ELDOA will alleviate and prevent back pain, neck pain and TMJ problems, better than any other exercise known to mankind.

Contact H3

If you are a musician and are suffering from pain or you wish to prevent an injury that could hamper or end your career, contact H3 today for a free consultation at 954.566.0585 or email info@hellmanholistichealth.com  Learn how to take responsibility for your body so that you may continue make sweet music.

Better Body. Better Music. Better Life.

Dan Hellman MSPT