The enduring task of learning musical pieces for many hours takes a toll on the musculoskeletal system. Exercise will restore vitality and blood flow to the overworked muscles and organs.
If performed correctly, exercise becomes a vital component to the musician’s wellness program.
Exercise Basics
For best results from exercise routines, you must first make a commitment to at least three days per week of exercise. Anything less than this and you won't get the optimum results. But during the first 3-6 months I would recommend no more than 4 days per week of exercise for someone who is deconditioned, overweight, or have not exercised in a year or more. The body needs a rest day in between routines to heal itself.
A musician should begin an exercise program that involves both weight training and aerobic training.
Aerobic exercise means to maintain your heart rate at an elevated level for at least 20 minutes so the body enters the aerobic energy cycle which helps reduces body fat and strengthens the heart.
While weight training, musicians should concentrate on high reps, and low to medium weight exercises. Each set of exercises should consist of 15 reps. If you feel that you cannot attain 15 reps then lighten the weight.
Form is most important!
Drummers for instance need a lot of arm and leg strength, while cello players need alot of upper body strength. Taylor your fitness routine to the type of instrument you play.
Do a exercise program that develops the major muscle groups of the hands, forearms, legs, abs, back, arms, calves, and chest.
For forearm strength, I prescribe wrist extension and flexion exercises. To develop arm strength to hold the instrument I recommended bicep and triceps exercises. For shoulder strength, I recommend shoulder “flys” to develop the deltoids. For chest strength, “benching” exercises on the universal equipment and to balance the pectoralis development, “seated rows” are implemented to strengthen the upper back muscles. “Latissimus pulldowns” are recommended for back support and different abdominal muscle exercises. Leg press and squat exercises recommended to develop lower body strength.
Guitarists should avoid hyperflexing their wrist while performing the wrist curls. Too much strain on the wrist flexors can cause inflammation. But if wrist curls are performed correctly, they are great at developing the forearm muscles, which are very important for overall hand strength and finger strength. Very importantly though, is to balance the wrist curls with exercises that will strengthen the opposing muscle groups, like the finger extensors and wrist extensors.
Balance is also very important in weight training.
Musician are like professional athletes?
Consider how much muscle activity goes into practicing and performing your music. How many hours per day do you use your arms and hands to play music? You must train your body to achieve this high level of activity just as if you were training for the Olympic Games. If you are serious about your profession, then become serious about your body. You can only play as well as your body is able. Many musicians develop painful repetitive strain injuries simply because their bodies were not conditioned enough to put in the many hours of strenuous muscular activity. You will not only see a change in your health, but also your attitude, your vitality, your happiness, and your music playing!
Musicians and Injuries
Musicians are at high risk of physical injury in general. They practice for hours a day, often with poor posture. Pianists tend to hunch their shoulders and lean in, craning their neck. Many pianists play with an inefficient technique, expending far too much effort in tone production. (This is an area in which less effort, combined with high leverage, nearly always brings better results.) At least pianists are balanced laterally, with both hands doing similar work. Violinists are forced to twist their bodies into a comparatively unnatural position, with their arms and hands doing very unequal work and their necks easily cramped. It’s easy to see how hours and hours of daily practice can lead to injury.
This is a good reason for all musicians to undertake a proper fitness program. We need to counterbalance all the stress we put on our bodies, not just from countless hours of practice but also from performing.
Pianist’s Fitness Routine
The very fact that the piano is in front of them leads to a highly imbalanced musculature, with shoulders turned in and necks craned. You can identify turned-in shoulders when someone is standing and facing you: If the backs of the hands, rather than the thumbs, are pointing forward, this is an indication of a postural deficiency in the shoulders. To correct this problem, pianists need to focus their effort on exercises that involve the reverse motion: Any exercises directed backwards are especially good. This means doing more back exercises than chest exercises, since the latter are directed forward).
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