Spider Speaks: Playing Through the Pain

I had the opportunity recently to speak with a yoga instructor who was also a professional flute player for over 45 years. In the course of our conversation, she said that anyone who plays a musical instrument is injuring themselves while they play. Now that is a bold and troubling statement for sure, but she went on to explain her reasoning. Basically, she maintains that playing a musical instrument involves asking your body to adopt a posture or position that is out of balance or to place stresses and strains on your body parts that are damaging in some way. Old drummers that I know (and you know who you are) are a great example. Most have arthritis or other joint and bone conditions from the pounding their bodies have endured over years of playing. Players of other instruments are somewhat less obvious, but guitar players for instance have to hold their arms in weird positions, and those of us who play heavier instruments (all you LP players take note) are putting added stress on our backs and shoulders. Even flute players, she pointed out, hold the instrument to one side of their bodies, which places strain on their arms and shoulders.

So what to do? Lay it down and get a real job? I think not, but it is worth considering what this woman was pointing out. My take away is that musicians need to be aware of the physical stresses and strains that our chosen instruments place on our bodies, and to put some time aside in our daily lives to exercise, do stretching, yoga or whatever that will counteract the physical damage we are doing in pursuit of our creative dreams. Let me know if you have any exercise routines that work for you for your particular instrument, and let’s share those thoughts with the Musician’s Life Support community.

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