Play it Safe – From Making Music Magazine

November 4, 2011

I recently subscribed to an excellent magazine called “Making Music“.  The magazine is geared towards all musicians, from classically trained to rock bands and everyone in between.  They have several features in their current issue I found to be very helpful – an article about Operation Happy Note, which is a program sending musical instruments to troops overseas, an overuse injury prevention article by Janet Horvath and this little blurb regarding tips for recreational musicians:

 

Recreational musicians will often comment that playing an instrument keeps them active.  However, this is not as healthy as it sounds  Most adults need more – moderate physical activity every day.  And, it may even improve your playing and protect you from injury.

According to the National Institute for Health, regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy.  People who are active live longer and feel  better.  Most adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.

 

While this may not be ground-breaking, earth shattering news, it does highlight the importance of more strenuous activity being important for overall health, in addition to what most musicians already know: that playing an instrument can be a sport in and of itself.  Playing an instrument demands a lot of the body and if you are using your instrument for exercise to “keep you active” you may be doing yourself more harm than good.  With musicians having the highest rate of work related injuries, picking up an instrument and getting serious about it as a hobby is not necessarily a well-balanced activity diet.  It’s like someone who works at a desk hunched over a computer all day collapsing in front of the TV on the  couch for several hours for “recreation and relaxation” ; it’s counterproductive and actually harmful.

If you are a recreational musician, and a “desk jockey” to boot, make sure you include regular activity in your DAILY life.  Yes, I said daily.  Playing ultimate frisbee once a week is not healthy, just as it is not healthy to work at your desk all week and then spend 3 hours practicing guitar.  The 30 minutes 5x’s a week guideline is a good place to start; running, walking, hiking, biking, weight lifting, anything that has you moving your body in multiple planes of motion.

If you do nothing else to combat your lifestyle, grab a foam roller and roll yourself out once or twice a day, incorporate some stretches and THEN go play your instrument or jam with your band.  Just be aware of the balance in the rest of your life.  Just like 1 hour in the gym cannot overcome the other 23 hours a day of overeating and bad postural habits, once or twice a day of foam rolling and instrument playing cannot countact the 23 hours a day that you spend in other bad positions.

 

 

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