Occupational Injuries Suffered by Classical Musicians Through Overuse


Occupational Injuries Suffered by Classical Musicians Through Overuse

M. J. E. Heming

52 Anstey Road,
Alton, Hampshire GU34 3RE, UK

Objective:   To establish the types of injuries suffered by musicians. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics and displayed using graphs and tables.

Methodology:   An anonymous, retrospective questionnaire covering aspects of lifestyle and musical habits was distributed to 107 musicians. Sixty-two questionnaires were returned (58% response rate).

Results:   Of the returned questionnaires, 59 were usable. There was an age range of 16–72 years. Thirty-one were teachers, with all but 1 using either verbal or visual postural advice. Of the total population, 70% had suffered an instrument-related injury, with one third of these unable to play for a period of time. Females (72%) and string players (77%) showed a higher preponderance. Professional teachers (57%) harboured the majority of injuries. There were no injured amateurs. The homunculi drawing revealed the posterior left shoulder and upper thoracic spine to be the most prevalent site for pain and discomfort during and after playing. Hands and wrists were relatively unaffected.

Conclusion:   There is a high rate of injury to professional classical musicians and teachers that can be disruptive to practice and potentially threatening top careers. Females and string players were discovered to be of particular risk. The majority of injuries were to the shoulder and proximal thoracic spine and the absence of injuries in amateur players suggests a relationship to overuse. The author suggests that the incorporation of postural and ergonomic into musical education and chiropractic treatment programmes for classical musicians and teachers could be of benefit.