Physiotherapy for Musicians
Human beings have evolved to keep mobile, but many musicians must maintain very static body postures, while performing very repetitive and complex movements of their fingers and hands. As such, musicians are prone to develop a combination of repetitive overuse and posture related injuries. The prolonged repetitive periods of intensive practice and rehearsals can cause muscle fatigue, muscle tension and micro trauma to soft tissues which can lead to muscle, tendon and nerve pain plus joint stiffness. This may eventually lead to adaptive shortening of the muscles, which is when the muscles adapt to these abnormal postures and think that they are normal. Muscle imbalances can then occur which lead to injuries. At Metro Physio, our music experts have years of experience of treating Professional musicians, musicians from Cheetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Common Injuries for Musicians
As mentioned above, musicians at all levels and across a range of different instruments, will have to maintain prolonged static sitting or standing postures for many hours per week. Over time, this can lead to adaptive postures around the chest, neck and shoulders (Upper cross syndrome) and around the hips, pelvis and lower back (Lower cross syndrome). This can result in shortening of some muscles and weakening of the opposing muscles leading to a variety of muscle and joint pain conditions, but in more serious cases can lead to wearing of the vertebrae and discs of the spine.
Repetitive movements of the fingers, wrists and hands make the muscles and tendons in those areas susceptible to tendonitis injuries and if left untreated, can result in the more chronic problem of tendinosis (degeneration of the tendon). Similar problems can also occur at the elbow and shoulder, through a combination of repetitive overuse or sustained tension from holding prolonged postures.
Increased tension or compression of upper limb nerves are also common problems from incorrect neck and shoulder postures, plus outstretched fingers and hands while playing various instruments.
Preventing Music related injuries
To maintain the high level of performance expected as a musician, prolonged regular practice is required, so simply stopping playing to avoid injury, is not always an option. Regular short breaks during and between practices are essential in maintaining joint and tissue repair. Maintaining regular playing regime throughout the year to try and avoid sudden increases in playing, which is a common source of referral of musicians to Metro Physio. Keeping up with a regular exercise routine, whether as a form of body awareness and posture class (Pilates or Alexander Technique) or aerobic or light resistance exercises, to keep your body and mind fit for the demands of playing at high levels is essential. Trying to practice and play as relaxed as possible is not always easy, but is very important for both the quality of the sound and the effects on your body. Increasing muscle and joint tension while concentrating on a new or difficult piece, is highly likely to result in increased muscle tension and resultant pain.
Treating Music injuries
As stated above, our experts at Metro Physio, have many years of experience of treating student and professional musicians, across a wide range of instruments. We can help tailor the treatment plan, specific to your level and instrument. We can help guide your return to pain free playing, through a specific programme of exercises and a wide range of treatment techniques including deep tissue massage, deep frictional massage, trigger point release, joint mobilisations, fascial release, Ultrasound Therapy, acupuncture, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and taping/strapping. We observe musicians playing instruments as part of our assessments, to ensure we can offer specific advice and corrections to help individual demands and needs.
Musician Injury Physiotherapy Specialist
Byron developed an interest in treating musicians after watching his partner performing in an Orchestra. It was very apparent to him that there were a wide variety of playing postures being adopted even with those playing the same instruments. When discussing this with his partner he realised how prevalent injuries were in musicians and wanted to make a difference. He has over the years worked with the Halle Orchestra, Chetham’s School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and a large number of professional musicians. He understands the need to not only treat the performer but to look at and advise on playing posture. It has also become very apparent over the years that musicians do not seem to view themselves as elite performers and do no look after themselves as elite athletes do. He therefore advises on good posture, the need to exercise and to live a healthy lifestyle. If you would like to specifically see Byron he is located at our Salford / Manchester clinic. He would love the opportunity to show you his expertise in the treatment of musicians injuries – Please click here for details of how to contact us to book an appointment