The Self Experiment

Feeling good in our bodies by exercising, stretching, and eating right all sounds great, but until we start to experience the benefits, it’s all speculation. The only sources of change that we can hold reliable are the ones that we experience.  The more often we experience a change, the more the body responds to address this change. It works like a self-experiment where we try and sometimes fail to find the things that work for our health.

 

Musicians are a fickle group of people—constantly subjecting themselves to a mix of activity and inactivity.  Theirs is a sedentary lifestyle that relies heavily on immersion in their art and exclusion from the outside world. The constant hours of practice and positioning preconditions the body for more—including their propensity for seclusion and independence.

 

The Weight of the World

As a Bodyworker and Musician, the principle of Wolff’s law comes to mind. It states that “… every change in the form and the function of a bone or in the function of the bone alone, leads to changes in its internal architecture and in its external form.” (courtesy of freedictionary.com)

 

In other words, when people who broke a bone, back in the days when they were bedridden and their fractured bones were immobilized, bone density would change and atrophy would set in.

 

The same applies to astronauts who come back from extended stays in space. Since space renders us weightless (not altogether accurate, but enough for our purposes), our body does not receive the stress it needs to keep up bone density.

 

The stress that we put our body through translates very directly to the shape and size that it becomes. Another way to think about this is to picture the 250 pound body building marathon runner. Don’t exist, do they? Each activity requires different kinds of muscle fibers and conditioning for one wouldn’t lend itself well to the other.

 

 

 

How does this translate to the Musician?

 

With conditioning that the body is put through, muscles, bones, connective tissue, as well as other structures throughout the system have to respond in suit. If the body keeps doing one motion over and over, it’s likely to get aggravated and sore. (i.e., one practice session for 2+ hours) This can develop into repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s for short). This is an umbrella term that refers to a number of conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis and Golfer’s elbow, as well as others.

 

The road for the musician isn’t as direct or laid out as it is for the Athlete even though more books, articles, and studies are treating the performing artist as an “upper extremity athlete”. Where the athlete usually gets their pain and aches sorted out, the musician will be less inclined to seek preventative options.

 

The answer is usually education in the form of the self-experiment. Since there aren’t “musician trainers” that massage and condition the artist for their instrument, the Internet can give so much information on stretching, exercises, nutrition, etc. for musicians. Despite the upfront cost, find a professional who can help you out. Then try them out. The road isn’t as concrete as it is for athletes, so it can be overwhelming for the musician. But the cost of reactive medicine (surgery, injections, rehabilitation) is much less than preventative exercise and bodywork.

 

Professionals to Consider

 

CSCS Personal Trainers: Finding personal trainers with a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialty (CSCS) would be very beneficial because they know how to train specifically for different kinds of athletes and professions.

 

 

 

Chiropractic: Seeing a chiropractor would surprise most musicians—they aren’t just about cracking your back. Good ones work soft tissues and can get you back into playing shape very quickly. Keep a look out for Active Release Technique (ART) certified Chiropractors since ART is touted as the gold standard of soft tissue (muscular) work.

 

 

Massage Therapy: A Structural Integration or Orthopedic Massage Therapist isn’t going to just draw shapes on your back, but rather find what your body does on a regular basis, and try to condition the body to continue.

 

Building a team for your wellness makes the overall process a lot less like shooting in the dark. Jump into the self-experiment and find what works for you.

 

Yours in Music,

 

Sean Peters, LMT

Certified Orthopedic Massage Therapist at

Momentum Healthcare

www.momentumhcboston.com

(617) 266-6810 or (617) 859-0007

Graston for Muscle Pain, Injuries & Sports Performance

Graston Technique is a unique application of six patented stainless steel tools in various shapes and sizes chosen for the body part you are treating.  The goal is to find major and minor adhesions and scar tissue which is causing pain or limitation of movement in your sport/activity and treat it using these powerful tools. The tools go beyond conventional manual therapies and actually magnify the problem areas so treatment can be very specific.  Not only can the practitioner “feel” the adhesions but the patient/athlete will also be able to “feel” where issues are arising.  Graston can be utilized upon active overuse injuries or even post surgical scarring.

Olympic Training Centers in the U.S. treat their Elite Athletes with the Graston Tools.

More recently, Michael Phelps the most decorated Olympian of all time revealed his utilization and benefit of Graston Technique for his shoulders. In addition many NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL teams treat their player as does the PGA Tour and even the Boston Ballet.

Thus, physically no matter what your stature, activity or level of development Graston Technique should be the tools you reach for to get you back in action.

Golf Injury Prevention and TPI

Do you know what your golf swing looks like?  If not, you are not alone.  Having your swing evaluated by a Certified TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Golf Pro for its “Swing Characteristic” is a vital part of your game.  There are a multitude of characteristics which all have an impact on your game and more importantly your body.  The type of “Swing Characteristic plays a vital role in the ability of your body to function at its highest level and provide the best sequencing for your swing in order to get the most power and production and reduce your risk for injury.  Depending upon your swing you may be limited in your core strength, flexibility and stability in particular regions of your body.  Knowing how to address these issues is a specialty of Momentum Healthcare.  Let us help you improve your body’s ability to be stronger, less prone to injury and subsequently up your game! At Momentum Healthcare we can perform a TPI Evaluation to discover your physical mechanical deficits and prescribe a custom work out to stabilize you and implement soft tissue  techniques via Graston and ART (Active Release Technique) to increase your mobility.  WE will work with your golf pro to incorporate your golf swing characteristic too!

The Nature of Overuse Injury

Dr. Melander recently wrote an article about overuse injury for Boston Fitness Magazine (http://bostonfitnessmagazine.com/the-nature-of-overuse-injury/).  Check it out and share it with your friends!