How Do I Physically Prepare For Life Back On The Road? MusiCares & Opus Physical Therapy For Musicians Can Help

Dr. Janice Ying


How Do I Physically Prepare For Life Back On The Road? MusiCares & Opus Physical Therapy For Musicians Can Help

Hear from a musician and physical therapist on how instrumentalists can identify what type of pain they're experiencing, prepare their bodies to get back to full-time work and apply tips and tricks to avoid playing-related injuries

MusiCares/Aug 25, 2021 - 02:08 am

Musicians tend to understand and take care of their instruments better than they do their own bodies. Although they may not identify as such, music industry professionals are their own type of athlete and their bodies acclimate to the wear and tear of the road.

After a year of minimal performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the live industry, many in the business are finding themselves to be out of shape and unprepared for the strain of working in the music industry.

On August 11, MusiCares presented a Return to Play workshop with Dr. Janice Ying of Opus Physical Therapy and Performance to discuss these issues as the country begins to reopen and musicians find themselves back in the studio, van or bus. Dr. Ying is not only an internationally recognized expert in the field of Performing Arts Medicine; she's a pianist and violinist herself.

"Studies have found that the physiological demand on drummers is almost equivalent to [that of] someone playing a soccer match," she said. "Playing music is [an] art and there's no doubt about that, but there's a physical aspect that you really have to take care of."

Out of the 11 systems in the human body, three are most impacted in musicians: skeletal, muscular, and neural. PRIs, or playing-related injuries, can come in the form of pain, weakness, lack of control, numbness, tingling or other symptoms that interfere with a musician's ability to play their instrument in the way they're used to. Common conditions in those who play instruments include osteoarthritis, fractures, joint sprains, and hypermobility.

Ying stresses that the most important thing a musician can do to prepare themselves for an uptick in work is prevention and prehab through therapy-based exercises. This way, they can avoid injury and make a plan to build their endurance over a specified period of time.

One way to do this is through cross-training of other strengthening activities outside of one's instrument. Suspension trainers, resistance bands and tennis (or lacrosse) balls for muscle kinks are all excellent tools to use regularly and are also compact for taking on the road.

To prepare for extended performances, physical therapists recommend musicians first set a goal then work backward to modify their routine in areas such as playing time, intensity, daily sessions and repertoire.

"The body of literature on how musicians increase their playing time just isn't very vast," Ying continued. People haven't really looked at that too much in medical literature. The human body is the human body. How we improve strength and endurance is the same whether you're an elite athlete, you're training for a 5K, you're training to play a two-hour set, anything. Your body still goes through a very similar framework in which it takes time."

As Ying explained, best practices are to increase your instrument playing load by five to 10 percent every day (existing pain notwithstanding). And, most importantly, a musician should listen to their body as far as whether they should increase or decrease activity.

Thoughtfully assembling one's setlist, practicing with proper posture and managing stress are also key in this regard. Plus, as Ying pointed out, mental practice is also an important aspect to bring into the fold.

"Mental practice is something that musicians are starting to use a lot more," she said. "Again, this is borrowed from the sports world where mental practice was initially researched, but it has bled into music science too. There is powerful evidence supporting the use of mental practice, which is trying to internalize and think about what you are going to accomplish when you sit in front of your instrument."

Opus Physical Therapy is currently offering both in-person and telehealth physical therapy to patients in California, Missouri, Washington, and Florida. They also offer services such as laryngeal/vocal massage, on-site backstage support, ergonomic counseling and more.

MusiCares' Health & Human Services Team's Holistic Approach To Wellness

Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Pre-Order The 2013 GRAMMY Nominees Album Now
2013 GRAMMY Nominees album available for pre-order now


Pre-Order The 2013 GRAMMY Nominees Album Now

Latest edition of best-selling series available Jan. 22, 2013; fans can pre-order the album and enter to win a trip for two to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

The Recording Academy's GRAMMY Recordings and Capitol Records have teamed to release the 2013 GRAMMY Nominees album, which will be available Jan. 22, 2013, in stores and via digital retailers. The 19th installment of the best-selling series will feature a bevy of this year's GRAMMY-nominated artists and hit songs across multiple genres. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the album will help support the year-round efforts of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Foundation — two charitable organizations of The Recording Academy.

Following the success of last year's contest, music fans can log on to to pre-order the 2013 GRAMMY Nominees album and enter to win a trip for two to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"It's an honor to join forces with Capitol Records to deliver a truly diverse collection encompassing a variety of genres and highlighting today's most talented musicians," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "After the success of last year's pre-order enter-and-win sweepstakes, we're once again thrilled to give music fans the opportunity to experience Music's Biggest Night firsthand. And, it's gratifying to be able to continue our support of the crucial work that MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation carry out year-round."

Dan McCarroll, president of Capitol Records, added, "Capitol is honored to collaborate with The Recording Academy on this prestigious series. This year has been a remarkably strong year in music, and encompassing the highlights of 2012 on a single release supporting these charities is immensely gratifying."

The road to Music's Biggest Night begins with "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" and culminates with the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, and broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT. 

For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook


MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction Launched

GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions offers exclusive memorabilia from seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Following the seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on May 6, GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions has launched the MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction. Presented in partnership with Kompolt, the auction is open through May 19 and features a variety of autographed music memorabilia, including items signed backstage at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert by Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Gahan and Paramore.

Additional auction items include a framed issue of Rolling Stone signed by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger; vintage memorabilia signed by Tony Bennett, Jackson Browne, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart, and Barbra Streisand; guitars autographed by Kings Of Leon, Korn, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers, and Keith Urban; unique memorabilia signed by Jeff Beck, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Muse, Katy Perry, and Rihanna; and a 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards VIP Experience for two including rehearsal passes and hotel accommodations.

To place your bid on items featured in the auction, visit All proceeds will benefit MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.

How Holiday Music Affects Your Mental Health


How Holiday Music Affects Your Mental Health

Love it or hate it, there's no doubt holiday music has an impact on our mental health

GRAMMYs/Nov 28, 2017 - 01:17 am

There are generally two kinds of people in this world: Those who love holiday music and those who can't stand it. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand, it turns out science has an explanation.

Scientists tell NBC News it all comes down to your childhood association with holiday music.

"Our response to Christmas songs depends on the association," said Dr. Rhonda Freeman, a clinical neuropsychologist. "Many of us associate this music with childhood and a happy time of presents and traditions and all the specialness that happens around that time of year."

However, on the other side, those who had a difficult childhood or who associate the season with loss find that holiday music brings on more painful associations.

The reason these childhood holiday music impressions have so much power over us even as adults is thatthe prefrontal cortex area of the brain, the rational thinking part of the brain, is still developing in children. As a result, a child's brain is more emotional, and those emotional associations around music stick well past adolescence. 

Because we listen to the same body of holiday music year after year since the time we are small, and tunes like "Silent Night" or "Carol Of The Bells" are designed to elicit an emotional response, it makes complete sense it's hard to get these songs out of our heads and hearts.

So love them or hate them, know you're not alone in your holiday music feels.

U.K. Charity Brings Live Holiday Music To Senior Centers