Body maintenance for musicians... a little off topic compared to my previous articles. However, I do have several musicians on the books at my Manchester Personal Training base at Longfords Gym and my Sports Massage base at Trafford Athletics Club.
So why is it important for musicians to look after their bodies, and how should they go about doing so?
Well of course, it's important for everyone to look after their bodies. However, musicians have a unique set of circumstances that require consideration. These include:
So what can be done?
Well there's not much that can be done about the fact that long hours need to be spent playing your instrument. However, when practicing do try to make sure you take regular breaks. Harpist Angelina Warburton is a strong advocate of the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980's. It involves using a timer in order to break down work intervals into manageable chunks. These chunks are traditionally 25 minutes long, and are separated by short breaks before resuming work again.
I would highly suggest considering the Pomodoro Technique. Not only will it give you greater focus during practice, but it will also give your muscles and joints a break from playing your instrument and some respite from what is most likely less than ideal posture.
If you want to take things a step further with the Pomodoro Technique, I would suggest performing a short Yoga routine during your breaks from work... or at least some other form of exercise that will help to counteract the likely poor posture encountered during the practice period.
My final suggestion with regards to practice is simple.
Listen to your body!
If you schedule in two hours of practice per day, that's great. But if, one day, you begin to encounter pain after, say, 1 hour 40 minutes of practice... then stop! Let's face it, the 2 hour per day practice target you decided on is probably an arbitrary amount of time anyway. So it's not worth soldiering on and risking an overuse injury just so you can reach your daily target.
Aside from these practice tips, what else can you do to take care of your body?
I strongly recommend engaging in a regular strength training routine. A good routine for musicians will be one that emphasises your postural muscles to counteract the long hours hunched up practicing. Send me a message on the personal training contact form if you need advice on this front.
Aside from this I would encourage you to take part in whatever fitness activities you find you enjoy the most. You might find going for a run really helps you to de-stress during super busy times. Or maybe a Yoga class is what hits the spot for you. Or maybe you need to take some aggression out on a punch bag!
The key is to make sure you do something you enjoy.
Finally, I would strongly recommend a regular sports massage. Almost every musician I know complains of getting tight back, shoulder and neck muscles. A regular sports massage, perhaps once a month, will really compliment all of the above suggestions by working out those tight muscles which get sore from long hours of practice.
If you need to book a sports massage, you can use our contact form to get in touch.
Here's to your health!