Recovery tips, if you have played too much
Often musicians get physical problems during their career. There might be problems with their teeth or jaw,hands, arms, shoulders, back or other areas. Often there are also combination of problems at the same time. Most of the problems are curable, if you look for help early.
The most common problem is overuse syndrome. You practice more than normal, usually for a longer period, and then you start getting symptoms like:
• Losing the sensitivity of sound
• Clumsiness in playing
• Heavier feeling of playing
• More pressure in playing
• Feeling tired every day when playing
• Feeling tired soon after starting to play
• Not recovering normally
• Numbness in part of the lip
• ”Needle pain”
• Sometimes even muscle spasms and shaking muscles
You try to rest for several days or weeks, but the symptoms don`t go away.
What can you do ?
• Keep resting
• Go to see a Doctor who is a Music Medicine specialist if possible
• Go to see a teacher who can help you
• Don`t wait – take action
Take care of yourself
• Do some aerobic training like walking, swimming or biking to help your body to recover better
• Take care of your good physical condition, have enough sleep and healthy food
• Avoid extra stress
• Eat bread, pasta etc. carbohydrates
• Enjoy nature and life in spite of the problem!
When you see a Doctor
o He/she decides about a sick leave length, checks your health, symptoms, situation and considers medication.
When you see a physiotherapist ask them to
• Check the ergonomics of your playing position
• Give exercises for strengthening the body and getting rid of pain
When you see a teacher ask them to
• check your relaxed and ergonomic playing and symptoms
• provide possible corrections and exercises
• help to plan recovery practicing both now and into the future
• give help with mental strength practicing
• build up trust in the future,
• follow up the recovering
• let the teacher co-operate with a Doctor and Physiotherapist , if possible.
How to start your recovery practicing after you have seen the doctor, physiotherapist and teacher
• A month or more without any playing (good starting point…)
• Recovery practicing: Start practicing every second day 10 min
• every second day do only breathing exercises, relaxation & mental exercises.
• Play in the middle range, mp, easy, legato exercises
• Warm down carefully to relax in the end of each session
• Be patient, use good memories as mental exercises and be optimistic
Feedback from a student (brass player) having overuse syndrome
“I wanted to tell you how my playing has been developing. I did my exam concert and it went very well. I could do the whole program that I wanted to play and I didn't have any problems with endurance. I practiced the whole summer according to the practice plan. It has been fascinating for me to see how I with less practice have so much better endurance.”
Feedback from a professional musician (brass player) after a one years sick leave and then following a three months practicing plan
"I feel that my focus has approved a lot, and the fact that I have so short time to practice, means that I really have to focus on the important things, and my practice now is a lot different than before. Now I am my own teacher in a new way, and I spot the problems very fast, and then find a way to train it and then it is solved - very quickly! I also play much more relaxed, and I feel that my high register playing is very much better. Bb as a top note is now just fun, no pressure, no problems. It is very strange for me, because I used to struggle a lot with the high range."
When you are back in shape it's important to practice more carefully in the future. To prevent injuries it is important to take care of your physical health by planning your practicing. Systematic planning is important for structuring your practice and for getting better results. During your student years in particular, it’s worth dividing your practice into periods of time to foster development and enable your skills to develop as required. These can be periods of weeks or as much as a year in advance. Practice periods, for example, of a month can be linked to previous exercises and skills you have learnt. Healthy, varied practice that exercises your whole body guarantees sufficient general strength alongside your ‘instrument-specific’ practice. The advantages of planned practice enable optimal development, helps you to avoid burnout and injuries in the future and produce better practicing results.
Reference of physical practicing, recovery, ergonomics:
Gibbons, S. & Comerford, M.J. (2001): Strength versus stability: Part 1: Concept and terms. Orthopaedic Division Review. March / April: 21-27
Stabiliser Role Characteristics
Jensen, L., Bangsbo, J. & Hellsten, Y. : Effect of high intensity training on capillarization and presence of angiogenic factors in human skeletal muscle; in The Journal of Physiology. . 2004 Jun 1; 557(Pt 2): 571–582. Published online 2004 Mar 12. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.057711
Klafs, C., Arnheim, D. Modern Principles of Athletic Training. 5th Ed. St. Louis. 1981