Newswise — As another school year begins, music students should remember that injuries aren't just for athletes. Largely because of the intense rehearsal and repetitive motion required, 89 percent of musicians suffer pain and injury, most commonly involving the hand, elbow and shoulder. Young students are especially at risk.
Rebecca Barton, associate professor in the University of Indianapolis School of Occupational Therapy, treats and counsels musicians and is the lead author of two recent articles in the journal Medical Problems of Performing Artists. Barton offers these five tips to help music students avoid injury and enjoy a lifetime of melody:
1. Lack of physical conditioning is the key factor behind injury in musicians, so take time to exercise and engage in non-musical activities to maximize physical fitness.
2. Monitor your posture while playing and during other activities, such as computer use and gaming. Avoid awkward, static postures that can contribute to pain, stiffness and other symptoms.
3. Use stretching exercises before performing and periodically while practicing. For every hour of playing, take a 5- to 10-minute break " away from the instrument " to stretch and rest the body.
4. Keep your schedule organized at school and at home. Establish a consistent, balanced routine for music practice and other activities, allowing time for relaxation and rest.
5. To maintain the mental and physical fitness needed for good musical performance, eat healthy food and get adequate sleep.