Pilates Alleviates Common Injuries Suffered by Musicians


A career as a clas­si­cal musi­cian comes with many rewards, but opti­mum phys­i­cal health is gen­er­al­ly not one of them. For exam­ple, sur­veys of sym­pho­ny mem­bers found between 64% and 76% suf­fer from com­plaints of the arms, neck, and/or shoul­ders. Repet­i­tive motions, awk­ward posi­tions, and exces­sive force.

Many of these problems can be addressed, corrected, and even prevented with Pilates.



Pilates offers a holis­tic approach to the cor­rec­tion and pre­ven­tion of some of these con­di­tions by restor­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing pos­ture, as well as enhanc­ing fit­ness levels

Pilates can help musi­cians return mus­cles to their opti­mal state by per­form­ing move­ments that coun­ter­act those held while play­ing and oth­er unnat­ur­al body positions.

Pos­ture is also improved because of Pilates’ focus on strength­en­ing the pow­er­house, or core mus­cles, name­ly those of the abdomen, shoul­der gir­dle, back, hips, and but­tocks. A strong core is essen­tial for prop­er pos­ture and trunk and shoul­der stabilization.

An added ben­e­fit of trunk and shoul­der sta­bi­liza­tion is bet­ter breath con­trol while play­ing. When the shoul­der blades are sta­bi­lized, the minor pec­toral mus­cles can assist with breath­ing. Shoul­ders no longer need to be held in an unnat­ur­al lift­ed, pro­tract­ed posi­tion that can result in nerve and cir­cu­la­to­ry impingement.

Restor­ing Posture

Despite the wide range of spe­cif­ic con­di­tions that musi­cians can suf­fer from, many can be traced back to faulty play­ing pos­ture. This can be cor­rect­ed through a holis­tic treat­ment plan that pays spe­cial atten­tion to play­ing pos­ture, prac­tice habits, and trunk and shoul­der stabilization.

Extend­ed peri­ods of abnor­mal posi­tion­ing, such as a con­stant­ly seat­ed posi­tion or awk­ward vio­lin posi­tion­ing, can cause affect­ed mus­cles to actu­al­ly reset their nor­mal length. Some reset to an over­stretched state, while oth­ers become chron­i­cal­ly short­ened. Not only does this result in chron­ic poor pos­ture, but it puts the body at high­er risk for imbal­ance, pain, and injury.

Improv­ing Over­all Fitness

Overuse injuries occur because a par­tic­u­lar area of the body is not trained to han­dle the stress­es put upon it. They fre­quent­ly occur with sud­den changes in play­ing inten­si­ty and can often be addressed and/or pre­vent­ed with a Pilates rou­tine that focus­es on over­all phys­i­cal fit­ness. Spe­cif­ic exer­cis­es can tar­get areas that need to meet heavy demands. These are often the mus­cles of the upper body in musicians.

Some mus­cles are in con­stant motion while oth­ers are stuck in a sta­t­ic state dur­ing prac­tice and per­for­mance. Mus­cles held in a con­sis­tent­ly immo­bile state, such as those propped up to hold the vio­lin beneath the chin, are actu­al­ly under more strain than the mus­cles in motion. They are in a posi­tion that offers no release of ten­sion or con­trac­tion, which can dis­rupt the blood flow and oxy­gen need­ed to replen­ish and cleanse the tis­sue. The result is a mus­cle that fatigues quick­ly and is at high risk of pain and injury.

Because Pilates exer­cis­es are typ­i­cal­ly per­formed lying down, sta­t­ic mus­cle con­trac­tions that hin­der cir­cu­la­tion are avoid­ed. The over­all result is a vig­or­ous flow of oxy­genat­ed blood that repairs mus­cles and flush­es out accu­mu­lat­ed waste prod­ucts, while it revi­tal­izes and restores.

In addi­tion, Pilates pro­vides effec­tive stretch­ing, strength­en­ing, and mobi­liza­tion of mus­cles. Spe­cif­ic exer­cis­es increase the endurance and strength of affect­ed areas. Oth­er exer­cis­es elon­gate and strength­en areas con­tain­ing the mus­cles, joints, and joint struc­tures that tend to weak­en with repet­i­tive use.

Pilates not only pro­vides the phys­i­cal relief many musi­cians crave, but it also pro­vides an acute body aware­ness that can result in over­all per­for­mance enhance­ment. Body aware­ness allows musi­cians to con­tin­u­ous­ly adjust and cor­rect their posi­tion­ing to rein­force prop­er posture.

One added bonus of Pilates’ body aware­ness is the mind­ful­ness it pro­duces. Musi­cians per­form best when they are com­fort­able and ful­ly present in the giv­en moment. Phys­i­cal com­fort can auto­mat­i­cal­ly pro­duce men­tal com­fort, result­ing in easy, con­fi­dent play­ing, rather than stress and strain. Pilates can be an inte­gral com­po­nent of every musician’s rou­tine that even­tu­al­ly leads to that ease and joy.

Michael Sal­va­tore 

Read the full article: 

Pilates Alle­vi­ates Com­mon Injuries Suf­fered by Musicians 


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