The life of a musician may seem full of glitz, glam, and glory – and that’s certainly a part of it. But, as with many other professions, it isn’t completely without risk. Many musicians experience pain or discomfort from using the same muscles and joints over and over while performing. Improper form, insufficient rest, genetic disposition, age, and frequency of use also contribute to the likelihood of suffering one of the many common musician injuries. Additionally, musicians can be more at risk for injuries from everyday life because of the activities that are commonly associated with their job.
Many common musician injuries come from repetitive movements and overuse, but a large proportion of injuries to musicians come from the activities that come with the occupation! Whether it’s from getting to and/or from the venue, being on the road for months at a time, or carrying instruments and the equipment needed to rock the house, musicians are at risk for injuries every day!
The second part of our list of common musician injuries includes:
Rotator Cuff Tear
Common in musicians whose instrument requires repetitive lifting of the shoulder, such as violinists, rotator cuff injuries can cause deep aches and pains, or be accompanied by arm weakness.
Daily shoulder stretches and strengthening can help prevent this injury and should include exercises for the chest, upper arm, and both the front and back of the shoulders.
Aside from overuse injuries, musicians can fall victim to the same everyday risks the rest of us face. Their unique lifestyle, however, can place them at an even greater risk. Some common injuries musicians experience from non-playing activities include those caused by:
Finger smashing, jamming or crushing
Setting up before most shows involves picking up and carrying large, cumbersome, metal instruments, gear, and other equipment. Whether you’re trying to fit it through a door, setting it down or knocking it into another, transporting equipment can quickly result in a finger or hand injury.
While moving heavy equipment, try your best to stay aware and alert of where your fingers are placed in order to avoid hitting them unintentionally.
Driving is a part of life that can be dangerous even when we’re at our best. Since musicians frequently play shows in faraway locations, they usually drive more often than the average person. Statistically, this puts them at a greater risk for car wrecks, especially when driving home tired after a gig.
If you’re too exhausted to drive after a performance, let another (more alert) person get behind the wheel, or consider crashing somewhere nearby for the night. It isn’t worth hurting yourself or someone else.
Playing music is extremely taxing on the body, so when a musician has another job that is also physically demanding, issues can arise. Repetitive movements are hard enough to avoid for people who play instruments, so adding another frequent stressor is likely to lead to injury.
If you play music professionally, consider avoiding second jobs that involve frequent typing, throwing, gardening, carpentry, waiting tables, and other repetitive movements related to the arm, wrist, and hand.
Falls, slips, and crashes
Stage performance is a huge part of many musicians’ careers, and often involves a great deal of movement and energy. Though not extremely common, all that excitement can cause tripping, crashing, slipping and falling while performing, even for extremely experienced musicians.
While on stage, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and ensure you are moving carefully in order to avoid an accident!
If you are a professional musician and are dealing with pain or an injury related to your job, the Musician Treatment Foundation may be able to help. Get in touch with us here and we’ll do everything we can to #KeepTheMusicPlaying!