The creator of this unique online process has been treating musicians problems for over 40 years.
Career threatening conditions can result directly from playing
and indirectly from other reasons including hypertonicity,
over-use and RSI, trauma, inappropriate technique, bad posture,
and occasionally, disease processes.
Muscles, especially the deep muscles often become 'muscle-bound'.
In this ultra-tense state the muscles will ache and tire very
rapidly. They are being starved of Oxygen. The nervous system
has two ways of dealing with tense muscles. If the muscle being
irritated for whatever reason is a superficial muscle i.e. one
which is in the outer layer of muscles, then weakening and loss
of bulk will often occur. However, if the muscles in question
are the deep, supportive and postural muscles, they will tighten
and shorten in response to irritation.
The deep muscles usually become tight when their associated
joints have been used repetitively and, or have an injured joint
or joint displacement along the muscle's length. Every muscle in
the body is in contact with at least one joint along its length.
In the case of the hand and forearm many of the muscles must
traverse multiple joints.
The main causative factors in musicians injuries are:
Long hours of practice without adequate breaks leads to exhausted muscles which then tighten and lose their ability to play even for short periods without pain. The muscles lose reflex speed, this in turn results in poor performances.
Intense rehearsals will often trigger
symptoms. Muscles get tired, stiff and painful. underlying injuries become aggravated. There are various' killer' composers out there. Long operas, Rachmaninov with wide stretches for octaves on the piano, Takemitsu with his chromatic and complex syncopatory patterns. Taverner with his long sustenatos for the violin. Session musicians having to repeat the same passage many times over.
When a musician attempts to play a new piece of music they have to push beyond previous limits. Composers have their own ways of playing their particular instrument and, thus their compositions can require playing techniques which are alien to the student.
Poor quality instruments
Poor instrument quality and set-up will create difficulties. When we are learning an instrument we will soon get to the limits of a poor instrument. The student will often blame themselves rather than realise that their instrument is holding them back. Strain of muscles and joints can ensue whilst perfecting the performance.
Long, late night journeys
Exhaustion, illnesses, muscle fatigue are to be avoided so planning trips is essential to ensure comfort and rest.
Poor furnishings at home
Slumping into deep sofas is very detrimental to the spine. especially if the musician can play their instrument whilst seated e.g. guitar.
Muscles and joints do not like the cold. They tighten and stiffen and become more prone to strain and fatigue.
Such injuries can take a long time to repair themselves. Remnants of childhood sprains and fractures can persist into adulthood. They are very influential and constitute 'weak' areas.
We are almost all water, muscles especially. If we go without H20 for around 4 days we die! We are like a plant which needs watering daily or it droops. Our brain is the most needy of hydration, without it we become slow and dumb, energyless and dissolute.
Phyios' and trainers can often give damaging exercises. Their knowledge is only partial, their therapy too standardised. They interpret 'weakness' with proneness to injury and 'strength with' immunity from injury. Thus they go about strengthening 'weak
'areas and make the already tense muscles causing the symptom even tenser. The answer is to determine the tone of the muscles involved using experienced palpation, then softening and lengthening them.
When we first begin playing an instrument it is usually at a young age, anywhere from 3 years old to 18, peaking at around 8 years and 14 years of age. When we first start we are tense and confused. As we become more accustomed we free-up and relax our grip more. However some of those childhood tension patterns can persist as either habit and/or muscle tension patterns in the hands and forearms. Those persistent patterns will limit our performance abilities later on.
Poor eyesight and dyslexia
You need good eyesight and lighting to read music. In cases of dyslexia notes can become jumbled thus proving difficult to read and even more difficult to play and learn. Try larger print. A pink or light blue background will also help.
Most musicians are highly intelligent. Many programmers are musicians also. Such intellect can give birth to its own problems such as depression, alienation, sociopathies, drink and worse, it is wise to view ones' own intellect with caution. The apparent need for mental and sensory stimuli must often be reined in or the so afflicted can damage themselves irrevocably.
Lifting and carrying heavy equipment causes tendon and ligament strain. Guitar amplifiers are a good example of what to avoid carrying. Drum sets too. Get help from some nearby Hercules if possible. Don't be macho.