Addressing injuries of professional musicians

Posted on: August 5, 2013

In Sunday’s (8/4) Los Angeles Times, Donna Perlmutter writes about musicians coping with work-related injuries, “playing music that demands the utmost precision, fluency, coordination and endurance—and doing so with an Olympian level of artistry.… Reports of torn rotator cuffs, repetitive stress injury, inguinal hernias, exploded neck vertebrae and lower spine problems tell the story. The ailments sound like a disabled list for a professional sports team. ‘Elite athletes of the small muscles’ is how cellist Janet Horvath refers to her fellow musicians. Unlike athletes who are likely to work 10 to 15 years, musicians boast long careers, so their bodies must toil for decades, with a regimen of practice, rehearsals and performances … As with cars, human parts wear out. And repetitive motion with tensed muscles and held positions takes a huge toll on the body.” The article quotes Horvath, a former associate principal cellist with the Minnesota Orchestra, now retired after 30 years, who “suffers a condition called hyperacusis.… But along her path of dysfunction she wrote a book, Playing (Less) Hurt, as an injury prevention guide for musicians—and has seen the burgeoning of performing arts medicine, in conjunction with sports medicine. (Her advice includes repositioning legs and feet, keeping head and neck in alignment, walking around during breaks, flexing/extending hands/fingers/wrists.)”

Posted August 5, 2013