Home: 2006 |
Injuries Continue To Plague Musicians
Dr. Timothy Jameson
Many musicians have heard of
repetitive injuries, but are not really sure what they
are, how they are caused, or if they should worry about
them or not. Horror stories are heard over and over
about musicians whose careers where threatened or ended
by such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis,
thoracic outlet syndrome and other ubiquitous
conditions. Little is taught, though, about these
injuries in schools, colleges, or conservatories.
In this article, you will learn more about the warning
signs of repetitive injuries, and what you can do to
help prevent them. Do not neglect your body’s signal
that something is wrong. It may be your only chance to
correct a serious condition. Neglect may cost you your
Why are your arms and hands
hurting? The most common complaints in musicians are
hand, forearm, and arm pain. This is due to the
repetitive hand and arm movements involved with playing
music. Repetitive bending of the fingers (for example,
to play repeated notes on the fretboard of a guitar) can
lead to inflammation and micro-tearing of the tendons.
The muscles in the forearm can fatigue, strain, and
weaken from injuries due to continuous playing.
If you begin to experience any of the following warning
signs, seek chiropractic or medical attention
- Tingling, numbing or
burning sensations in the extremities
- Difficulty grasping objects
- Weakness of the hands
- Pain during or after playing or practicing
- An increased feeling of clumsiness with your hands
- Neck pain that seems to travel down to the arm
- Constantly sore arm and forearm muscles.
- Pain upon moving your shoulder, elbow, wrist, or
- Feelings of depression due to pain or potential
loss of job.
- Pain upon lifting hand-held instruments.
- Pain upon carrying instruments to and from gig.
- Coldness in the fingers while playing (more than
- Hands turn blue or flush erratically.
- Restricted motion (stiffness) of the neck or arm.
- Prevention Techniques to Avoid Injury
The following “top-ten” list
will help you learn what to do to avoid injury.
Listen to your body:
If you hurt during or after playing, you body needs to
rest and heal!
Take more breaks during
practice sessions. A 5 - 10 minute break
every 45 minutes of practice is helpful to rest tired
muscles. Perform stretches during this time and drink
Avoid sudden increases of
practice time. This is sure to strain your
Be careful when changing
instruments. Instruments have different
“actions.” Instruments that needs a great deal of force
from the fingers or embrocure to produce tones may cause
aware of your playing environment. Cold
temperatures increase the risk of repetitive injury, due
to decreased blood flow to the extremities.
Prepare your body before
playing. Just as an athlete stretches, warms
up, and prepares for an athletic event, the musician
needs to do the same.
Watch your posture! This is an important
issue. Take a good look at your posture while playing
your instrument. Are you slouching, bending your head,
or elevating your shoulder? Try videotaping yourself to
really see what you are doing.
Become “one with the music”: if you let your
body move with the music, instead of staying rigid, you
will notice your muscles staying looser are a decreased
Drink plenty of water. Your muscles are 75%
water. Do them a favor and begin drinking about 8
glasses of water per day. This will reduce your risk of
a healthy diet. Your body’s chemistry and
overall health are dependent upon you eating the right
foods. Don’t rely upon fast foods to achieve optimum
Preventing RSIs is up to you. Become educated on how to
play without pain, and how to use your body more
efficiently while playing. But most of all, listen to
your body. Be proactive in your wellness philosophy. If
you are wondering if you are prone to these injuries,
Dr. Jameson offers free email consultations. Send email
Copyright © 1998-2004 Timothy Jameson. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Timothy Jameson has been in private chiropractic practice
for 15 years. Dr. Jameson has spent the last six years focusing
on the care of the musician population. His practice is
family-oriented and he also specializes in the care of infants
and children. (Our musicians to be!) He is the author of “The
Musicians Guide to Health and Wellness, which is available for
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