Music has the incredible power of boosting both emotional and physical health – and that’s just by listening! If you are a musician and music is your livelihood, you reap additional benefits. Playing music provides a total brain workout that strengthens many brain functions.
Regardless of which instrument you play, there is a repetitive nature that comes with playing music, so it’s important to engage in healthy habits to prevent occupational injuries. Practicing healthy habits not only prevents injury but allows musicians to play longer, faster, and better.
Practice makes perfect, right? In order to master a song, musicians perform highly repetitive and rapidly coordinated movements. While it’s unlikely for a musician to cut down on the number of practices or performances, it’s important to physically warm up prior to playing. Warming up before playing increases the blood flow to the muscles and allows musicians to play longer with less pain and fatigue. All musicians can benefit from a physical warm-up and stretches to the forearm muscles. Try to stop and take 10-15 minute breaks every hour, to give yourself an opportunity to do some gentle stretches or simply walk around to relieve any muscle tension and allow the muscles a chance to recover.
It is also common for musicians to give in to poor posture as they are typically playing for long periods of time in a somewhat unusual position. It’s best to practice good body mechanics which will help place less stress on joints and muscles to allow you to play even longer. A medical specialist can help make recommendations about your posture and position and prescribe stretches specific to your individual performance demands, instruments, and equipment.
If you do experience pain or an acute injury, rest and listen to your body. Stay calm and don’t panic. Most minor injuries disappear after a short rest or a few days. If symptoms do not disappear after several days, visit a healthcare professional.