How Musicians Can Prevent Instrumental Injuries

Musicians can experience pains from playing their instruments just as easily as athletes can playing sports. From practice to performances, their bodies can take a beating and depending on the instruments they play and how they play them, injuries can vary. 

Overuse and Misuse Injuries

These injuries develop as a result of repetitive and excessive stress on muscles and tendons over a period of time and can be classified as overuse or misuse. Overuse injury is caused by doing too much with particular tendons and muscles. Misuse injury is caused by poor technique that can lead to damage of the muscles and tendons. Injury can develop from either or both of these types of injuries.

When misuse injuries occur for musicians, they are likely performing with poor habits, technique and posture. Their body could be used in an incorrect way for extensive periods of time that would lead to such injuries.

Pains Of Playing Specific Instruments

Those playing string instruments are prone to back, shoulder and neck injuries depending on the specific string instrument being played, its height, weight and whether the musician is standing or sitting while playing it. 

Wind instrument players often complain of ear, nose throat, mouth, lips, neck, shoulder and arm pains. Because of the air pressure they must provide when playing their instruments, they can suffer from laryngoceles or retinal hemorrhages. 

Percussionists are prone to back, shoulder, neck, hand, wrist, fingers and arm pain and tension. They often suffer from tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tips on Preventing Instrumental Injuries

Always Warm Up

Like athletes train for their sport, musicians must condition their bodies, especially their hands, fingers, arms, mouthes, etc. to play their instruments. It is crucial that musicians do not skip warm-up exercises for both practice and performances.

Avoid Poor Posture and Technique

Whether you are seated or standing, make sure to position your body to correctly play your instrument. This will not only help you play your instrument more efficiently, it will help you avoid strain in your neck and back. Evaluate your instrument's size, weight and shape to make sure it is right for you. You may even need to consider using an accessory to play your instrument more comfortably, such as a strap or padded stool.

The best way to avoid poor playing habits is to not start them. Correctly learn the proper techniques and positioning to play your instrument by asking your music teacher, reading books, researching, and being mindful and observant of the way you play.

Practice Self-Care

Through proper self-care using the Gelliflex Abacus, musicians can stay in tune and get much-needed relief from pains caused by Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The customizable gel-ball trigger point and self-massage device utilizes balls of different firmness and can be used in different positions to target the various parts of a musician's arms, hands and fingers. 

Among the many techniques one can perform using the Abacus, musicians would likely benefit most from hand, wrist and forearm compression. Compression releases tension, improves hydration, mobility of muscles and fascia, and increases upper arm movement and function. Check out our compression technique videos to learn how to use compression for arm pain. You can also discover other movements and their benefits in the Abacus Handbook.

While aches and pains from playing an instrument are common, they are not unavoidable for musicians. However, serious instrumental injuries can be prevented and it's important to do so in order to play for years to come.