Musicians Injuries: OUCH, It Hurts When I Play (But Please Dont Tell Me To Stop!)
This article takes a look at musicians' injuries. For an expert perspective, I interviewed Dr. Sarah Mickeler, B.Mus., D.C. Dr. Mickeler is a former professional musician and a chiropractor who concentrates on musicians' injuries in her practice.
1) What led you to specialize in musicians' injuries?
I have a very personal connection to musician's injuries. I had trained as a classical clarinet player and it was during my undergrad that I started to have all sorts of problems from playing too much and with poor posture. Unfortunately, I was told, as many others are, that I should just play through the pain and that maybe it would get better! Of course, it didn't, and it eventually led to the demise of my career as a clarinetist, because I was totally unable to hold up my instrument. So, I decided to pick a new career that would help others musicians - and hopefully before they got to the point that I was at! Chiropractic appealed to me because of the whole health care paradigm that it embodies - as chiropractors, we diagnose and fix the cause, rather than masking the symptoms.
2) What is different about treating musicians than treating the general population?
Often, what I tell people who don't understand the specifics of musicians' injuries, is that "it takes one to know one". As a musician, it can be very difficult to explain to a physician or physiotherapist or even another chiropractor what the mechanics look like when you are playing your instrument. But when someone comes into my office and says that they play flute, or guitar, or tuba, or whatever, I know exactly what the physical component of playing their instrument involves. That is a very important first step.
Secondly, not only do you have to be able to have a good understanding of what playing that instrument involves, but you have to be able to see that person play. Even if someone tells me they play violin (I automatically think: "ok, so they will be leaning their head to the left and have right shoulder problems, etc..."), I am often shocked to see how over the years of playing they have contorted themselves into a little pretzel while they play!
So, on the first or second visit, all of my musicians bring in their instruments and I do a thorough playing analysis to see what it is that they're doing right and wrong. It could be that their posture is contributing to their injury. Or maybe there's something about the instrument that we could change; it might just need a minor adjustment in the thumb rest or a key positioning.
For instance, I have very small hands and found it difficult to reach some of the alternate fingering keys on my clarinet - so I had them sawed off and re-soldered on in a different direction so I could reach them.
Thirdly, it is important to recognize that there are some really common reasons for performance injuries. The most common ones are a change in repertoire, a change in the instrument (such as a new mouthpiece or something similar), a change in practice time or an upcoming recital. If we can pinpoint what it is that the performer has been doing differently lately to contribute to their injury, that helps immensely.
And lastly, it is so important to realize, especially for freelance artists, that you can't just tell them to take a muscle relaxant, and take a few weeks off. If these people took a few weeks off, they wouldn't have a roof over their head or food on the table. While it's occasionally absolutely imperative that a break be taken, most of the time I take a holistic approach to treating performers and change and fix what we can, within the obvious limitations of current gigs and upcoming events.
3) What's the most common injury that you see in your office?
In my office, there is a tie for the most common injury. The first is upper back/shoulder/neck pain - I lump these together because those terms can mean the same thing to a lot of people - often someone will come in and say that their shoulder hurts and point to the pain, but to me what they're pointing to is actually their upper back or lower neck. This one is often a function of poor posture or poor practice ergonomics. If we can figure out how to improve the overall posture and ergonomic situation then this tends to resolve quickly.
And the second most common injury is hand and arm pain. You would not believe how many people walk into my office with numb and tingly hands and fingers - which can be very scary if you're the one to experience it - to find out that the problem isn't actually their hands and fingers at all, but it's a little further up the arm and can be quite easily treated once properly diagnosed. Or they come in with tennis elbow - but they have never held a tennis racket in their life! In my office, I call tennis and golfer's elbow "musician's elbow" because it is a repetitive strain injury. It is really, really common and surprisingly easy to treat.
4) What can musicians do to prevent injury?
First of all, don't be a hero! There is just no reason to practice for hours on end without a break. Always remember to take a little break for every 30 minutes that you are playing. Secondly, don't play through pain. The pain signal is there to tell you that you are doing something wrong. Playing through it is not going to get you anywhere - other than in more pain and in worse shape down the road. Thirdly, be aware of your ergonomics. If you sit to play, does your chair fit you properly? In rehearsal, do you have to strain at all to see both the stand and the conductor? Are your arms contorted oddly in order to be able to play properly? This is not good. And lastly, seek the help of a professional who can not only help you with the injuries that you are currently dealing with, but can help you avoid future injury and optimize your overall performance.
You can find out more about Dr. Sarah Mickeler and her Toronto-based chiropractic practice concentrating on musicians' injuries at http://www.drsarah.ca.
To echo Sarah's advice, please pay attention to any pain signals your body is sending you! Admitting you're having a physical problem doesn't make you any less of a musician - it means you're a very smart musician with years of playing ahead of you!!
This article was originally published on the Muses Muse Songwriter's Resource website (February 2005) http://www.musesmuse.com.
(c) Copyright Linda Dessau, 2005.
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. To receive her free monthly newsletter, "Everyday Artist", subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/artist-newsletter.html
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news
Emotions run high as McNally Smith College of Music graduates final class - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Net neutrality's end may have negative impact for music fans and musicians - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Soul Band for a Party
Was the request six months ago, a sixtieth birthday party, the client said. It got me thinking.
How Has Eminem Risen to the Top?
How is it that a little white boy from Kansas City has becomethe most well known rapper in the world? Starting from nothingand eventually moving up to a multi-millionaire, Eminem over thepast seven years has been in the eye of the public everywhereyou look. He has essentially entered a black man's business andgone to the top over the course of a few years, but how?On October 17, 1972 Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born in St.
Micing a Kick Drum
This months tip deals with micing kick drums.You wouldn't believe how many people ask me about micing their kick drums.
More so than any other music since the blues, hip-hop is all about stories. And its stories are both criminal minded and grand, making them enthralling and unbelievable, but also making them only as interesting and convincing as the teller.
The Downfall Of The #1 Southern Gospel Station
Back in the 90's we had a local Southern Gospel station (I can't remember the name. You'll see why if you keep reading).
Canadian Stars: The Marble Index and the Waking Eyes
Canadian Indie bands are dominating the music scene and it just so happened that three of them took over the Rivoli on Queen St. for a night of true entertainment.
College Radio: The Most Important Radio Level for Musicians
For the self-promoting independent artist, the idea of takingon a radio promotion campaign can, in itself, becomeoverwhelming. But, this idea is usually based on such artistsattempting to obtain worldwide airplay on a local budget.
Does Your CD Cover $ell (Or Suck)?
Oh, I know the last part of the title (Suck) isn't a very pleasant description to apply to anyone's CD cover. But, in the interest of plain old honesty, and to face our demons head on, I wanted to (again) utilize a worst case scenario that we can only improve from.
Playing The Violin Is For Everyone Who Loves Music
Every day musical instruments enrich the lives of people around the world and continue to promote culture and art throughout every society and community, no matter what size or structure. Even those people of the world who live outside the realm of technology enjoy and use musical instruments to tell stories or entertain.
New Age Piano and Improvisation
There are so many areas in life where one must do things right. Thankfully, art is an area where great discoveries are made by making mistakes!Take improvisation for example.
Rabbitt Productions - Up & Coming Atlanta Producer
When you think of music in Atlanta you generally think of Crunk Music but there is more to Atlanta's musical soundscape than that. Lots of young musicians in the A-Town venture off into different musical directions.
Growing and Keeping Loyal Fan Support
Fan support for musicians is a two way street. You make the music, release the CDs, and play the shows.
Five Great Practice Ideas I Learned From My Piano Students!
Sometimes the teacher learns more from the student than the student does from the teacher. Hopefully, not too often, but today I would like to share with you some great practicing ideas that have come from my piano students over the years:1.
Copyright Basics for Songwriters
Should you copyright your song? If you're a songwriter, sooner or later you will probably have some questions about getting your material copyrighted. Since I've already been down this road before, you might be able to benefit from my experience.
The History Of Drums - A Journey Of Sound
Music and musical instruments are an extremely important part of human history. The use of rhythm and song has long been used to express meaning, and feeling and accompany rituals.
Everything I Play Sounds the Same
Many students want to create music that has a certain emotional quality. For example, I once had a student ask me to show her how to play something that sounded happy.
Piano Music - How to Begin and End a Piece
How do you begin a piece of music? That's a question I'm often asked. The answer I usually give is that you begin as soon as you start playing - that is, if you're trying to "compose" something, the piece begins the moment it has energy and is something you want to capture.
Celtic Music: The Japanese Connection
My friend, guitarist Brian Hughes, toured with the Chieftain's in Japan as an opening act with Loreena McKennitt. He then went on to perform with the Chieftains in North America and Europe when they were promoting their album Santiago.
Chords or Melody First... Which is Best?
There are basically two ways you can compose a piece of music. The first and most traditional way is to write out the melody and then harmonize it.
What is Music?
That's a fair question!Basically, you can call music any noise that is set to either a rythm as in percussions or that follows a melodic line of some sort.Our early ancestors sitting outside the cave by the fire, after a hard day of gathering and hunting food, probably made music by tapping bones together or blowing in sea shells.
|home | site map|