Make sure your body is ready to play.
Musicians have a lot in common with sportspeople. Both rely on their bodies to perform amazing physical feats and both need to be healthy in body and mind to perform well. Many musicians find it hard to appreciate this similarity, so read on to see how you can benefit from a new mind-set...
Just like atheletes before participating in sport, you need to warm up before you perform.
Do a few exercises to warm up your upper back, shoulders and arms, then begin some finger limbering play/ work on your instrument or Drum pad, to give your upper body muscles and joints they flexibility need. Just like your body during sport, you need to have blood in the muscles you are going to use to move quickly and without mistakes.
Your warm up need only take 10 minutes.
For more details on this, The Inner Game Of Music by Barry Green is a must read text for all musicians. Your mental approach to playing is the difference between good and WOW!
Improving your posture to reduce pain
How does your posture cause pain?
You have 2 basic major types of muscles, those which hold you up (postural) and those which move you (mobiliser). Postural muscles have endurance characteristics and are prone to weakening or going on holiday, mobiliser muscles have strength characteristics and are prone to being overactive or workaholics.
If your postural muscles weaken (which is common in static postures), your mobiliser muscles will usually take over movements they are not designed to do. This often causes an abnormal pull on your joints which leads to pain; it is essential that you improve your muscle balance with specific exercises from your Physio to take control.
We are designed to move. This increases the blood flow to your tissues to keep them healthy with fresh nutrients. Poor sustained postures lead to muscle imbalances and often lead to pain.
Improving your muscle balance will improve the way you use your body control and reduce your pain. Just as computer users suffer from pain when in static positions, musicians share many similar ailments, and because industry has spent millions on researching the typical PC users' problems, we can benefit from this research with solutions adapted for the musician.
Long periods of slumping cause a series of muscle and joint problems; a stiff neck and upper back joints, tight chest muscles and lengthened supporting muscles in your back.
Your slumped posture will lead to you:
- Jut your chin forward, which squashes your neck joints. This often leads to neck pain and if your nerves are compressed, pain/ pins and needles down your arm.
- Round your shoulders, which stretches your postural (shoulder control) muscles at the back of the shoulder and activates the opposing (mobiliser) chest muscles. When this happens, your shoulder joint does not sit in its socket correctly and is strained when you move your arm.
These problems can be reversed with the correct Physiotherapy techniques and exercises which help you take control.