Violin and Viola – The orchestra’s riskiest instruments

September 23, 2020

Violin and viola players are at the highest risk for injury among performers in the symphony.

Violin and Viola Players – Highest risk for Pain! String players have the highest risk for Performance-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMD’s). Rates frequently reach as high as 88%. PRMD’s include issues like neck pain, shoulder pain, shoulder impingement, carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist pain, and back pain. Symmetry Musicians who play instruments that reinforce asymmetrical postures and movements, like violin and viola, are more susceptible to injury. High volume repetitive stress, often accompanied by extreme mental focus and stress, contribute to string players’ vulnerability. A literature review spanning 16 years and published in the journal Medical Problems of Performing Artists Published in 2018 strongly supports this premise. Reducing Risk in Violin and Viola Players. As frustrating and annoying as preventive measures and cool down sessions may be for musicians, like athletes, they must attempt to reduce the risk of career dampening injuries. Below are a few steps to help prevent injury that require no help. These should not be skipped: Warm-up. A gentle warming up of your body and instrument should preclude serious practice or performance. Take breaks. Pause between songs or sets to shake your body out and interrupt the repetitive, asymmetrical strain on your body. Stretching and mobility exercises...

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PRMD – Playing Related Musculoskeletal Disorders – Musician Pain

September 22, 2020

What is PRMD? PRMD stands for “Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders” among musicians. Researchers asked a large cohort of musicians about their experience with PRMD’s and the results were significant: Lifetime history of injuries averaged out to 68%. Previous 12-month history of PRMD’s was 46% 7 Day history of PRMD’s was 23% Most respondents reported multiple PRMD’s. Upper body PRMD’s were most common by region. Wrists (25%) and low back (24%) were the most common body “parts” affected. PRMD’s occur most often in musicians who practice or play many hours each week. There were 173,300 professional musicians in the United States in 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. In recent surveys, nearly three-fourths of professional musicians reported past injuries and pain that affected their playing. The Musical “athlete” Professional musicians are like athletes. Practice, practice, practice, perform. Repetition of fine and gross motor movements slowly accumulates stress and strain over time, leading to the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. This tends to happen faster in musicians who fail to do the following: Warm-up and cool down. Seek help at the first sign of a problem. Recognize that symptoms have a cause. Stop playing when problems arise....

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Wrist Pain From Guitar. Guitarist Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

September 21, 2020


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in The Guitarist Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common repetitive strain injury in musicians. Guitarists’ fingers and wrists move a lot, creating friction and inflammation in the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a tight band of ligament that crosses over the wrist, like a bridge across the wrist, and the nerves going to the hand. When the nerves are under too much pressure, numbness, tingling, weakness, and poor coordination and healing often arise. Diagnosis People often “diagnose” themselves with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but are too often wrong. With the guidance and expertise of a doctor, CTS can be easily diagnosed and recommendations for care made, via telemedicine video calls. Specific tests and patterns of symptoms will lead to an accurate diagnosis and strategic treatment. The problem with poor self “diagnosis” is that the efficacy of treatment will be compromised, potentially leading to a drawn-out worsening of the problem. For a serious musician, this could be career-altering…in a bad way. Other Factors of Vulnerability Other lifestyle factors like hobbies, sports, sleep position, previous injuries, and previous episodes may also alter the “normalcy” of your CTS, complicating treatment, even diagnosis. These additional factors may make traditional...

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Dr. Lou Jacobs, Maine’s Rock Doc Chiropractor | (207) 774-6251

November 29, 2016

Like a professional musician, you want a chiropractor with good hands. The adjustment is everything. Call Dr. Lou for a great adjustment. Trusted by some of the best musicians in the world. (207) 774-6251

Finely Tuned Specialty. Rock & Roll Chiropractor in Portland, Maine     For over 15 years I’ve worked with musicians as a chiropractic graduate student and as a licensed chiropractor in Portland, Maine and Bucharest, Romania. What started out as a specialty for local musicians turned into a different game about seven years ago.   Eight or nine years ago I was hired to work a large show by a company that I ended up being less than happy with. After the show I spent a great deal of time beginning to create relationships and connections in the industry that would lead me to the musicians. My Rock Doc specialty was born.   I began getting gigs with some of music’s biggest names and they just kept coming. Repeat customers, offers to go on the road, direct cell phone numbers and other signs that I’d arrived. While I am happier at home with my family than on a 300 square foot tour bus, the opportunities I have had reminded me of the value of family as well as the obvious thrill of being part of the rock & roll lifestyle on a top shelf level.   I often wonder how...

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Portland, Maine’s Rock Doc Likes To Share The Music | Portland, Maine

November 17, 2016

Maine’s Rock Doc Chiropractor – Dr. Lou Who is your chiropractor?     Dr. Lou loves to spread the music. As a “rock doc” in Portland, Maine and Bucharest, Romania, Dr. Lou has worked with dozens of music’s greats. Grammy winners, Oscar winners and a bunch of really great musicians and performers call on Dr. Lou to keep them in the game. He does the same for his local patients from all walks of life. In addition to specializing in musicians health, he also works with athletes, families, pregnant moms and children.   Dr. Lou always seems to have an extra ticket. Watch his Facebook page for an opportunity to accompany him to a show. “Like” Jacobs Chiropractic Acupuncture or Dr. Lou on Facebook and keep you eyes open for free tickets to local shows. If you see one available, email Dr. Lou at and if the ticket is still available, you’ll be hearing from him.      ...

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Arthritis In The Musician. The Show Stopper.

June 1, 2015

Arthritis in the musician can be a show stopper.   Headlines Read: Alex Lifeson’s Arthritis Could Bring an End to Rush’s Touring!   Degenerative change in the joints of the hands, shoulders, elbows, wrists and even hips and knees can be the nail in the musicians’ coffin. Common sense, professional help and an action plan for preventing debilitating change can make a world of difference to your career or your hobby.   Zone 1: The first zone of arthritis in the musician, and the one with often the most limiting damage is the wrists and hands. Repetition of playing fine movements coupled with the need to use our hands in day to day life translates into high risk of injury and degeneration. Rigid, inflexible, inflamed, painful joints of the hand and wrist can be disastrous.     What happens with degeneration in the hands? Our bodies are under constant strain and breakdown. Physical stress and inflammation leads to pain and restricted motion. “In smaller joints, such as at the fingers, hard bony enlargements, called Heberden’s nodes (on the distal interphalangeal joints) and/or Bouchard’s nodes (on the proximal interphalangeal joints), may form, and though they are not necessarily painful, they do...

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Guitar Shoulder Pain-Frozen Shoulder-Solutions to keep playing-(207)774-6251

May 27, 2014

Guitar Shoulder Pain The Career Derailer   One of the most common complaints in the guitar players I see is shoulder pain.  Pain in the left shoulder from strap strain and in the right  shoulder because of arm position and strumming repetitively.   Shoulder pain should be taken very seriously in professional musicians and those who can’t live without playing.  This is true regardless of the instrument played.  Shoulder pain and the symptoms below may lead to “frozen shoulder” or “adhesive capsulitis”, an often debilitating and very disruptive condition for musicians.  Quick and simple, you don’t want frozen shoulder so look out for the symptoms below.  Depending on their presentation and your history, these symptoms may be “pre-frozen shoulder” warning signs. Symptoms to look out for are:   -Inflammation   -tension   -restricted motion   -pain in the shoulder and even arm   – New shoulder discomfort and weakness after playing   If you or a member of your band is experiencing any or all of these symptoms and your livelihood or happiness depend on playing, have yourself examined by a professional who deals in the health issues of musicians.  Dr. Lou knows guitar shoulder pain....

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Rock Stars Sleep on Buses

June 24, 2013

Don’t Sleep Like A Rock Star   Don’t sleep like a rock star, sleep like they would want to be sleeping, like that of a mere mortal.  Many tour buses have one queen size bed, not enough for an entire band or even half a band.  Tour buses are also equipped with smaller than a twin size mattress bunks that run parallel to the direction of the bus.  Cramped, guarded sleeping leads to issues.  Worn out old mini mattresses lead to issues.     One of the most common complaints I hear from traveling musicians is that the beds on the bus are terrible. It is very difficult to comfortably sleep in the coffin like bunks.  1-2 day breaks from touring allow for overnights in hotels but the bus is the primary home for the months spent on the road.     One of the reasons I am most often called in to treat musicians is for aches related to poor sleep.  Poor sleep equals poor performance and they know it.  Because their livelihood depends on great performances, touring musicians will often call on me prior to injury or pain because they know that the beds, among other stressors...

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Eminem & The Chiropractor

March 8, 2013

Eminem is one of the greatest rappers of all time.  It’s not often that a chiropractor is mentioned in music of any kind let alone a song by Eminem.  The song Fly Away makes reference to the Chiropractor.   “Homie you got it backwards, you’re dipping your soup Inside your crackers, I can carry rap til my back hurts Set it down, go right back to the chiropractor Get my back right then I’m right back on you bastards”   Having worked with some of music’s biggest names, it is important to recognize the physical, mental and chemical stress on the working musician’s body.  It is because of these stressors that professional musicians find visits to the chiropractor so valuable for damage control, better health and injury...

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Thoughts From Backstage

August 6, 2012

Thoughts From Backstage After 10 years of working with and specializing in musicians health and injuries, I was finally asked to go on tour with a band.  Just 2 days ago I respectfully declined the gig of a lifetime.  Being asked is just as good as doing it, at least that’s what I’m telling myself. My passion for working with musicians has provided me with opportunities that I only dreamed of years ago.  The experiences have been profound and I have learned a lot about working with all people by spending time with some of the most famous people in music today. – People are all the same.  We are individuals with sometimes unique issues but we are all people and we all want to feel better. – We all need a bit of TLC at times.  The distance from the top to feeling as though you are at the bottom is sometimes nothing more than a bad sprain or strain. – All people are valuable and worthy of great care and respect.   Everyone deserves superstar care.  Our problems are important to all of us, whether we’re famous or not, pain doesn’t discriminate. – Musicians are athletes and need to treat themselves as such. – Whether we are millionaire superstars...

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