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Performing Arts Medicine: The Musical Athlete


Copyright 2024, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Quarrier, N.
Journal Title: Journal of Sports and Physical Therapy
Date Published: Feb-93
Language: English
Category: Multiple Medical Disorders
Key Words: medical performance musician sports physical
Full Citation: Quarrier, Nicholas F. Performing Arts Medicine: The Musical Athlete. Journal of Sports and Physical Therapy 17, no.2 (February 1993): 90-95.
Full Abstract: Musicians place great physical demands on their bodies to perform complicated movements at often high rates of speed for long hours. These stresses are complicated by the awkward playing position of various instruments, improperly sized instruments that create too large a reach for the player, the demand for long endurance, flaws in technique or posture, and a psychological desire to please the conductor or audience at all costs. Women are more frequently injured than men. Of 4,025 members of the Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians surveyed, 76% report having had one or more injuries severe enough to hinder performance. Lifestyle traits of musicians may contribute to this, such as hectic performance schedules and long rehearsals and practice routines. In the case of wind players, muscle fatigue can contribute to self-inflicted wounds. As the embouchure tires, musicians often try to compensate with excessive muscular contraction to maintain the same flow rate of air. This type of tension impairs performance and is potentially damaging. Strategies for coping with the athletic demands of instrumental music include modifications in the practice routine to allow time for rest, posture and technique modifications, warming-up properly, and heeding the warning signs of pain. The most universal prevention is ample rest. Another, extra-musical solution is the application of time-management strategies.