A study published in 2017 evaluated amateur musicians and complaints of the arms, neck, and shoulders (CANS).

The only relevant observations were in amateur musicians who played with an “elevated arm,” which was most often the left arm. When compared to a neutral left arm position, those with an elevated left arm, had more complaints in the arm, neck and shoulders. The amount of time playing appeared to be much less relevant than the left arm position in causing musician injuries.

Dr. Lou is Maine's chiropractor to musicians. His client list proves he's the best. Call today (207) 774-6251

Dr. Lou is Maine’s chiropractor to musicians. His client list proves he’s the best. Call today (207) 774-6251

Who may be affected? Amateur musicians playing string instruments like violin, viola, upright bass, guitar, and bass would be most obvious. Horn players with elevated arms may also be affected.

The repetitive motion of string instruments, combined with moving up and down the neck of the instrument, poses real challenges for any serious musician. Playing Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (PRMD’s) are very common and the bulk of the Musician Health Specialists’ work.

3 Steps to better shoulder biomechanics while playing:

  1. Be strong. Strengthening your shoulders and upper back will help you avoid injuries.
  2. Warm-up. Stretching your arms, neck and shoulders like you are stretching for a sporting event, will reduce your risk of injury.
  3. Focus on form & position. Seek professional guidance from qualified teachers who can help you dial in fundamental skills that will protect you.
    YOUTUBE. If you don’t have the cash for lessons, seek instruction online. Free YOUTUBE instruction is a great way to be better than on your own. Without the expense.

Moral of the story: It’s not just professional musicians who injure themselves while playing. Amateur musicians are at risk too. Don’t sabotage your future music career or passion by “skipping steps” and not paying attention to details. Your playing posture matters, especially when it comes to your left arm, its’ position, and its’ movement.

Dr. Lou Jacobs is a chiropractor – acupuncturist in Portland, Maine who has been specializing in musician injuries and crew injuries for 20 years. Dr. Lou is available for telemedicine consultations for music-related injuries and health problems. Among those he has permission to mention, Dr. Lou has worked with Mumford & Sons, The Pixies, Steve Vai, Tommy Emmanuel, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, Blackberry Smoke, Gogol Bordello, Trey Anastasio, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. PHOTOS