musician's health and wellness
Performing arts are demanding in so many ways. In order to be the best, you need to practice for thousands of hours, sacrificing your time and energy (both mental and physical) and focusing on being the best you can be. This can take a huge toll on your body as well as your mind. A healthier performing artist is a better performing artist. To have the strength and fortitude to handle the rigor of developing your craft is an absolute must. I will post helpful resources on this page so you can be the best performing artist you can be!
The human body is a dynamic organism - it is built to MOVE! Unfortunately, we have created a social norm in the workplace built on sedentary work. The workplace is designed to keep us seated at computers, work desks, in practice rooms, while driving, in class/meetings/rehearsals, etc. but it goes against the natural environment that the human body thrives. It is important to remember to keep balance within our workspace. We must take frequent breaks of short duration (called microbreaks) to add movement to our lives. Microbreaks can help prevent injury by helping us avoid repetitive stress incurred from staying in one position for too long. It is just as important to note that microbreaks can also help us keep higher levels of focus and energy while working, which will make our work more productive!
I recommend several practice sessions that are 15-20 minutes in length. In between these sessions, we should take at least 1 microbreak before we prepare for our next session. Here are some examples of microbreaks designed to keep you healthy and focused. Each video is categorized into one of the following four categories:
SITTING - These microbreaks can be done while seated. These microbreaks are also helpful for ensemble musicians taking advantage of some downtime.
#1 Shoulders | #2 Shoulders 2 | #3 Neck | #4 Forearms | #5 Forearms 2 | #6 Fingers/Hands | #7 Spine | #8 Quads/Hams
STANDING - These microbreaks are best done while standing. They do require some space but are easy to do in a practice room.
#1 Shoulders | #2 Back | #3 Hamstrings | #4 Breath | #5 Quads | #6 Rotator Cuff | #7 Calf | #8 Arms | #9 Neck/Shoulders
FLOOR - These microbreaks are best done while seated or lying down on the floor. They will require a softer surface (such as carpet or a soft mat) and may have clothing restrictions (e.g. I probably wouldn’t do these in my tux!). Shoes are optional, but whenever I have a choice, I prefer to do them without shoes.
#1 Shoulders | #2 Back | #3 Hips | #4 Low Back | #5 Hips | #6 Hips/Back | #7 Back/Hams | #8 Back/Shoulders |
#9 Ham/Shoulders | #10 Hams/Back | #11 Hips | #12 Hips/Back | #13 Thighs |
Additional equipment (e.g. massage balls, ropes, etc.) that is needed is described in each video if necessary.
Here are some tips to help make your workspace work for you!
Treadmill desks can help balance sitting and moving in your day.
When you do have to sit, chair blocks can help!
But when you stand, try a wobble board for better playing posture!
Here is a presentation I gave for the Troopers percussion section during their move-in rehearsals (May of 2017). It's a long watch, but lots of good info for injury prevention and health and wellness. This info transfers well to people in all sorts of industries and domains, not just drum corps/marching band, etc. Feel free share and stay healthy!