MOVEMENT & PHYSICAL HEALTH
Pain is one of musicians’ most common complaints, especially pain in the shoulders, neck, back and hands. Musicians often have mobility issues, such as stiffness or increased muscle tension or the opposite, hypermobility. Neurological symptoms, such as loss of motor control or the feeling of pins and needles in the fingers, are also common. The literature suggests that the cause of these complaints is most often the asymmetrical posture required to play an instrument, which results in both overuse and under-use of specific structures. Exhaustion and playing with ineffective, inefficient movement patterns also play a role. For reference, imagine what would happen if a related group, professional sports people, did not strive for a high degree of accuracy and efficiency in their movement patterns!
Which performance-related playing complaints you experience is dependent on several factors. In the literature a few stand out: stringed instrument players and pianists have more playing related problems than wind instrument players, women have more playing-related pain complaints than men, and the bigger your instrument, the greater the likelihood that you will experience playing-related problems. Age also plays a role in playing-related problems. As you age the chance of injury increases and you are more likely to experience (chronic) pain.
It has also been repeatedly shown that professional musicians are prone to stress-related problems. This is not at all strange when one considers the distinguishing characteristics of a musician's work, which include pressure to perform at a high level, irregular work times, sleep deficiency, lack of job security and stage fright (up to 70% of musicians suffer from stage fright!).In addition, musicians resort to the use of alcohol and drugs more often than the general population, most likely in an attempt to cope with stress. Surprisingly, musicians die on average seven years earlier than the general population, probably as a direct or indirect result of stress!