Trust me — if you’re a musician, your health is just as important as your instrument. Both must be in tune to play well. Common musician injuries include thoracic outlet syndrome, De Quervain’s syndrome, repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis. These ailments can get in the way of your playing — limiting the time you can practice and diminishing the ability to perform.
Unfortunately, many musicians treat these injuries with medication, including off-the-street pills. This can lead to addiction and even kill you. Others turn to invasive surgeries.
But the good news is neither is necessary. You can heal from musician injury naturally. These 7 self-help techniques will help you play better with ease. Yes, you can play great without totally destroying your body in the process.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Consider the body a musical instrument. Pay attention to subtle signs your body is out of tune — tired or heavy arms, tingling, numbing or burning sensations in the extremities. Your hands may feel weak or clumsy. This can be a sign of De Quervain’s syndrome — a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. Musicians who suffer from De Quervain’s syndrome hurt when they turn the wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.
Balance Your Posture
Try to straighten your back, whether you are standing or sitting. Slouching will roll your shoulders and neck forward, tightening muscles and causing strain. This leads to thoracic outlet syndrome — characterized by pain, tingling or weakness in the shoulder or arm. Avoid slouching, which can strain the muscles.
You know that weak, sluggish feeling you get when you’ve been jamming really hard? Your arms feel heavy. You feel a burning sensation in your neck and joints? Take a break. Step away from your instrument and do something different. Listen to the reel of how that last track sounded. Get out for a breath of fresh air. Take some with your band mates to laugh it off a little.
Feeling ragged from a rigorous practice regimen? If you’ve been pushing hard and are starting to feel it, give yourself permission to chill out a bit. Play a mellower piece. Try a song that focuses on the talents of another musician in the band to give your joints and limbs time to recover.
Rhythm doesn’t just apply to singing and playing your instrument. It’s in your breathing too. Use agile breathing habits in pace with the music. Breathing efficiently coordinates a number of other muscles you use to play your instrument, which helps prevent musician injury. Clumsy breathing puts undue tension on your other muscles, leading to strain.
See a Masseuse
Getting a massage relaxes muscle tension, which can help alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, De Quervain’s syndrome, repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis. Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck brought a hand musician on his classical music tour specifically to help mediate the symptoms of repetitive stress injury and De Quervain’s syndrome.
Visit a Health & Wellness Doctor
Through a comprehensive diagnosis, we can assess the source of your musician pain and develop a treatment plan. This could involve acupuncture, PRP therapy, massage, or pressure point relief.
Do you suffer from musician pain? Call our office to schedule an appointment. We treat patients at our Cincinnati, New York City, and Seattle offices. Also inquire about telemedicine possibilities.