End Your Back Pain
The second most common reason why people visit their doctor is back pain. In fact, about 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. Whether you play drums, guitar, violin, or trombone, you are at risk of developing back pain. As a musician, it can have a severe detrimental effect on your ability to enjoy playing.
Common causes of back pain include excess weight, poor posture, improper movements, and repetitive strain. By making some simple changes in your lifestyle and taking better care of your back, and your body as a whole, back pain can often be eliminated from your life.
Being overweight puts constant strain on your back, and weak abdominal muscles exacerbate the problem because they help support the spine. So, watch your weight and spend some time and effort exercising. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity. Spend a few minutes of each session working on some abdominal (or core) exercises.
Also, make stretching a part of your daily routine, and not only before and after you exercise. Make it a part of your music practice routine as well. Stretching before, during, and after performance or practice on your instrument will help you feel more comfortable and avoid injury.
Check Your Posture
Constantly monitor your posture, especially when practicing. Check the height of your chair and the position of your music stand and your instrument. While seated, your feet should be flat on the floor (unless using a guitarist’s foot rest), with knees level with the hips. If your chair doesn’t support your lower back, place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind you. If you find yourself practicing for a prolonged period of time, change your position occasionally. Get up and stretch when you have a short break.
If you have to play while standing for a prolonged period of time, keep one foot in front, and your knees slightly bent. This takes pressure off your lower back. Change position often to avoid strain and keep your circulation flowing.
Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves. Your back is not designed to support the upper body in a curved position. Poor posture may lead to muscle fatigue and injury. Incorrect body movements, such as excessive spine rotation to reach auxiliary keyboards or distant cymbals, may be part of your technique. If you are unsure, check yourself in the mirror and/or ask an experienced teacher to evaluate your form.
Monitor your back position even when you are sleeping. Sleeping in a curled up position or with too thick of a pillow can cause upper spine pain. Sleeping on your back puts 55 pounds of pressure on your back. If you must sleep on your back, try putting a couple pillows under your knees, which will cut the pressure in half.
Lifting Heavy Equipment
Musicians often have to carry heavy equipment to gigs and home again, which puts them at higher risk for back injury. If you are carrying the item by hand, kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor, as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body and maintain your back’s natural curvature. If an item is excessively heavy or bulky use a lift truck, or find someone to help you.