• Nicki Llewellyn

Musicians, Injuries, Sports Massage and Osteopathy.

Updated: Oct 17, 2017

Being good friends with quite a few musicians; I thought it would be a good time to research a little deeper into the problems they face aside of the hard graft, long hours of practice and lengthy journeys they undertake often several times a week.

Unfortunately, studies show that up to seventy-five percent of musicians suffer playing-related injuries. Most of these injuries will hamper practice time, postpone gigs or events and generally delay the career of a musician.

Certain other factors that can relate to injury maybe genetics, duration of practice, age of musician, as well as external factors that may be overlooked such as another role or job of the musician all contribute to the challenge and potential injury threat.

Here are some of the most common injuries and some ideas on how to prevent or remedy them -


· Occupational Cramp: Stiffness, cramps, tightness, and fatigue caused by overuse when the same muscular action is repeated during playing.


· Tendonitis: Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon (the tissue that connects muscles to bones) leading to severe and debilitating pain. The pain may be at one or multiple sites, will persist when part of body is moving or at rest, and may cause some loss of coordination.


· Muscle Strains of neck, shoulders, and back: Positioning is uncomfortable at site of strain


· Muscle Injury: Small tears in the muscle, often wear the muscle attaches to the tendon. Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow): Tenderness and pain over the thumb side of the elbow.


· Nerve Compression – Pressure on a nerve causing tingling numbness and pain in an area of the body.


· Bursitis: Inflammation of capsules that cover joints. This inflammation cause pain during both rest and use, although pain may be higher during use. CAUSE: Joint infection, rheumatoid arthritis, joint overuse, and other joint injuries


· Rotator Cuff Lesions: A lesion in any part of the muscle-tendon units that enable shoulder rotation. Common symptoms include pain at night and pain that worsens with activities, particularly when using your arm over your head. In addition to pain, your arm and shoulder may feel weak when you use your arm over your head or when you raise your arm out to the side of your body.


· Osteoarthritis: Inflammation of a joint due to wearing away of the cartilage covering the joint head. CAUSE: overuse and your personal biological structure


· Focal Dystonia (writer's cramp): painless in coordination or loss of voluntary highly controlled movement caused by overuse. Symptoms go away when individual is not playing instrument and may last months too many years.


Here are some other injuries musicians face that aren’t so well known -


· Dupuytren's Contracture: Fingers are permanently bent in an awkward-looking position. CAUSE: biological inheritance from parents.


· Dorsal Wrist Ganglion: A fluid filled cyst on the back of the wrist that may lead to inflammation of adjacent tendons and possible decrease of mobility. CAUSE: Leakage from fluid around your wrist bones. This leakage can be caused by overuse and strenuous positioning.


· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) - numbness and tingling on thumb side of hand and on the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. Fingers may feel tingly and weak, losing dexterity. Compression is in middle of wrist.


· Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - tingling and pain on inner elbow, especially when elbow is bent. Compression is at the elbow.


· Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: fatigue and numbness of the hand and/or arm with use, aching of limb, and coldness or discoloration of hand.


· Guyon's Canal Syndrome (Ulnar nerve compression at the wrist): Decreased sensation on the palm side of the ring finger and little finger and/or weakness in the ring and little fingers.


· Pronator Teres Syndrome: Pain and weakness down the affected wrist and hand.


· Wartenberg Syndrome (Radial Sensory Branch Neuropathy): Pain and numbness on the nail side of the thumb and the thumb side of the wrist.


· Flexor Tenosynovitis: numbness of the median innervated fingers during and shortly after playing.


· Bowler's Thumb: numbness and tingling on thumb.


· De Quervain's Disease: Tendonitis at base of the thumb


· Trigger Finger: Inflammation of tendons in the palm and fingers.


Injury Prevention Tips –


· Stretching and warming up all muscle groups before and after practice and performances


· Regular soft tissue remedial massage, sports massage, osteopathy and deep tissue massage along with active mobility sessions (yoga, Pilates etc.).


· Strengthening abdominals, back, chest, and shoulders to maintain proper posture; and gentle strengthening exercises for hands and wrists to prevent strain of their delicate muscles.


· Aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times a week for at least 20 minutes to maintain endurance.


· Use proper technique and avoid excessive tension. Stay relaxed!


· Don't over play difficult passages


· Make sure a full and complete recovery is present before returning to a normal playing routine


· Be careful when lifting any heavy object or taking part in any physically stressful activity.


· The injury does not have to be cause by your instrument to affect your playing. For example, don't hold the phone on your shoulder.


· Use proper lighting, dark enough copies, and comfortable temperatures whenever possible


· Modify your instrument, if possible, to make it feel more comfortable for you to play, and to enable proper posture and technique.


· If possible, sit with hips bent at a less than ninety degree angle. A wedged seat cushion, rolled up towel, or 2 X 4 placed under the rear chair legs can fix this problem.


· See your local GP or Healthcare provider for regular check-ups and engage in a healthy lifestyle.


Thanks For Reading!


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