Nearly every day, someone asks me “why would you work on musicians? How would they get injured, it’s not like they’re running around a football field”. I thought it was about time I explained myself!

These a few standard reasons I hear frequently from our injured performers in the clinic or who we see working on the road with a music festival. How many can you relate to?

1. Lifting Heavy Instruments And Equipment
This is also done quickly, with bad lifting habits and a general frustration about having to do it yourself! The average guitar amp weighs 20kgs and the average drum kit weighs 70kgs. Have you seen some of the skinny hipster muso’s walking around these days; they don’t look like they could carry a harmonica without straining a muscle.

2. Marathon Rehearsals
Demands of band mates, recording contracts, managers, fans, family but most often themselves. People over work. You do it, I do it, and musicians do it. We often hear; “the perfectionist in me is coming out so I must keep practising until I get it right”. This can take a very large toll on some very small muscles. Hours and hours of intense concentration and dedication – unless you’re one of the lucky ones, which if you are, please stop reading this and go back to being brilliant someplace else.

3. Sleeping Through The Day And Not At Night
We all know that our body is designed to heal naturally at night. It’s during this restful sleep that your body releases large amounts of hormones that are essential for your ability to heal and rejuvenate your cells. When we sleep through the day, we get muscle fatigue, which can lead to chronic pain, fatigue and the resulting reduced blood flow can eventually lead to microscopic tears in the muscle and the buildup of scar tissue.

4. Long Grueling Flights
Most of us have been there. Musician, businessman or avid traveller. Those airplane seats make sitting on a bed of nails look appealing. Throw into the mix a person sitting next to you who wants to chat about time travel and what would happen if the plane crashed. Flights can have such a stressful effect on all of us when we are tired, hungry and grumpy, let alone when we are in pain!

5. No Pain No Gain
Playing too much, too intensely, no warm up or cool down, no option to stop playing when performing (no subs), bad posture, wrong technique, bad tone, other performers want to keep practicing and so on…the list goes on why we believe in this little line.

6. Fast Food, Hotel Beds And Heartbreaks
Unfamiliar settings, poor nutrition and being lonely as a performer is a standard way of living. It’s hard to not deal with these situations badly. Unfortunately many performers find the temptation of “letting themselves go” is a lot easier to deal with now, than confronting a situation. Once again combine this with performance anxiety and I can’t imagine what type of hormonal imbalances this creates.

7. No consistency Or Routine
When you are in the driver’s seat you know where you are going. Being a musician can usually make you feel like you’re in the passenger seat with a drunk driver – unable to anticipate in the next motion. They are usually jerky, sudden, inconsistent and uncontrolled. Research shows that routines create comfort, security, and a sense of worth. Not having these basic human rights can lead to a myriad of health concerns, addictions and bad behaviours.

8. Screaming Fans
The emotional and physiological responses that occur when playing to an adoring crowd can be overwhelming, exhilarating and mind blowing. Needless to say, we have all seen our favourite performer throw themselves around the stage, “playing up to the crowd”. Yes, it does hurt diving into the crowd, jumping off a tower or running around the stage doing flips – do they feel it right then and there? No of course not. The amount of adrenalin pumping around their body keeps them from feeling anything (until they hop off stage and cool down).

9. Small, Unusual And Obscure Work Environments
Playing conditions are often less than ideal, but sharing a stage with thousands of people over the years calls for compromise. Yes the performer may need to deal with fog machines, heat stroke, sleet, swarms of insects, blinding stage lights or be completely in the dark. If that doesn’t sound like a picture perfect situation, try doing it with a smile on your face and having to remember what song to do next! Expect the unexpected. We even massaged in a tiny jail cell on tour once, as it was the only place to put the table!

10. Prolonged Repetitive Movements
This is simple science – force and tension is needed to play the instrument, repetition is needed to master the instrument. Combine that with poor posture, no rest and the other 9 points on this list, you have yourself a fantastic recipe for an Injured Musician!

If you’re a musician who’s had to deal with an injury, we’d love to hear your comments.