There is a generally accepted opinion that music is a cure for the soul, that a beautiful melody can make you at ease, help you relax and serve as a stress relief. However, for those who are producing and creating this melody, music can also be a serious pain stimulus, especially for professional musicians.
The lifestyle of an artist, musicians primarily, carries with it serious health consequences that we can attribute to specific positions they play their instruments in, long hours of practicing and noise they are often surrounded with. For some, professional careers require a serious care and responsibility towards their own health which, in some cases, can lead to health issues that require long breaks from performing or even end of career.
Performance Affecting Health Problems
Modern health centers nowadays are taking this matter seriously and putting extraordinary efforts to help musicians feel at ease when suffering from these disorders, which mainly include musculoskeletal disorders, skin disorders, respiratory disorders, and noise induced hearing impairment. A 1998 survey of symphony orchestras found that 64% to 76% of musicians were experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI) that affected their performance. RSI, also known as Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, is an injury to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that can be caused by numerous repetitive actions musicians do on a daily basis – repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.
The reasons that cause RSI are numerous, such as misuse or inefficient use of the body, lack of general fitness, chronic muscle tension, undeveloped upper-arm, shoulder and back muscles and many more such as stress. However, there are even more reasons that can lead to the injury sooner than you might expect and, in order to avoid these symptoms, try avoiding awkward or asymmetric postures, sustained or prolonged muscle contraction or deviated wrist positions. Unfortunately, these movements often cannot be avoided, if you are a professional musician but, if these injuries do occur, the most important step is to find a trustworthy doctor or medical clinic.
Once you find a doctor you can trust, supported by a modern general practice, you are one step closer to treating your condition and finding the best exercises for your injury. In fact, any trustworthy doctor will advise you to try to prevent injuries in the first place by following the well-established routine and steps. These include always warming up and stretching prior to playing, which can save the musician from placing a huge amount of stress on the hands and the rest of the body.
Another important aspect is the psychological preparation for the activity in front of you – being present in your body and spirit can also influence you overall health even more than you think. Sitting or standing as well as breathing properly before and during the performance is also one of the crucial elements that allows the body to be and feel stress free and, therefore, in smaller risk of getting injured. Finally, as any doctor in Amsterdam will tell you, try releasing the stress, relaxing your body and focus only on the present. These simple, yet powerful advices are routines that should be applied and used on a daily basis and can help us live a better and quality life.