Massage for Musicians
Just as musical instruments need tuning, your body requires maintenance to ensure peak performance. Musicians use their muscles with an intensity that is comparable to dancers and athletes, yet are less likely to receive the same training on how to upkeep their bodies and prevent injury from overuse. Research studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and Medical Problems of Performing Artists have concluded that the majority of professional musicians suffer a debilitating injury at some point in their careers. Such findings indicate that regular care and attention to the muscles is an integral part of a healthy practice regimen. Massage therapy can be a relaxing way to release chronic tension, prevent injury, clear the mind and restore structural integrity. It is also an effective tool for increasing body awareness, thereby helping you to recognize (and subsequently improve) postural and practice habits that affect your muscular health on a daily basis.
Benefits of Massage for Musicians of all levels:
- Increased circulation
- Higher oxygen and nutrient levels in the bloodstream
- Sharper mental and physical acuity for practice and performing
- More energy, reduced fatigue
- Improved posture and alignment
- Increased body awareness
- Reduced muscle tension
- Prevention and treatment of repetitive strain injuries
- Reduced stress and tension related to performance anxiety
To get the most out of your session, it is best to schedule a massage when you can dedicate time afterwards to let the muscles rest and rejuvenate. By avoiding intense practice sessions and vigorous activity in the hours after a massage, the healing effects will last longer. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after a massage; this will help to flush out toxins that have been released from the muscle tissue.
Also, be aware that if your muscles have been in a state of chronic contraction, you may feel soreness during and after a bodywork session. It is important to take this into account when scheduling massages near a recital or performance. Always let a massage therapist know if you have a performance scheduled within 48 hours of a session so that s/he can plan your treatment accordingly.
“Good health is a precondition for playing well on a musical instrument. When the body works in harmony with the musical instrument, a oneness is created that facilitates music playing.”
– Fjellman-Wiklund, Sundelin and Brulin; Medical Problems of Performing Artists, March 2002.