5 Ways To Prevent Music-Related Injuries
From shedding scales and arpeggios in the practice room to jamming out onstage, music is an incredibly physical activity. Whether your instrument of choice is guitar, violin, drums, saxophone, trumpet, or even your voice, without proper care, attention and technique, the risk for injury can be right around the corner.
Musicians who play an instrument are especially prone to repetitive strain injuries that affect the fingers, hands, wrists, and even arms with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. In addition, stiffness and pain can reach to the neck and back, especially for string players and percussionists. Wind instrumentalists have the added consideration of potential air pressure injuries to the eyes or larynx, and vocalists have to worry about their vocal cords.
The good news is that many of these injuries are preventable with a few extra precautions. Thanks to ThoughtCo, remember to safely practice and perform with these five injury-preventing tips.
Don't Forget To Warm-Up
Remember to approach music practice like warming up for a sporting event. After all, a competitive runner wouldn't dream of racing a sprint without first stretching and warming up the body, and the same goes for playing an instrument. Take time to slowly warm up to the physical demands of playing an instrument, including stretching and playing slowly at first.
Use Proper Posture And Technique
There's a reason most music teachers spend a lot of energy in their classrooms emphasizing posture and technique — it prevents injuries. Sit or stand with a natural spine alignment and an alert but relaxed posture. Use the recommended technique for your instrument so your body moves in harmony with your instrument as opposed to working against it. The goal is to play without any added strain or pressure.
Get The Right Instrument
Many instruments come in various sizes and shapes, such as string instruments. Choose an appropriately sized instrument with a comfortable contour that works with your body while still giving you the tone and performance you'd like. And don't forget to accessorize. Adding a neck strap for a clarinet player, a padded strap for a guitarist or different gauge strings on the bass can help make your instrument more comfortable and less likely to cause unnecessary injury.
Heed Warning Signs
The body tells us a lot of information. When it speaks, listen. If your arms feel tired, take a break. If you're feeling tension in your hands, take a moment to stretch them out. If your throat is sore, rest your voice and drink tea. Don't ignore the warning signs and give your body a rest when it needs it. Also keep in mind, for longer practice sessions, small periodic breaks will go a long way.
Consult A Doctor
Finally, if you've followed all the preventative measures and you're still experiencing pain and discomfort while playing your instrument, it may be time to see a doctor. Per ThoughtCo, "most injuries are treated easily when caught early." If you're in need of a referral, MusiCares' Medical Network is a great place to start.