Why Musicians Should
Stay in Shape
When people think of musicians, they often envision artists immersed in the world of music and passionately expressing themselves through their chosen instruments. However, many fail to realize the physical toll that playing an instrument can take on the body. Holding an instrument for long periods in particular positions and sitting for long hours in an orchestra can take a toll!
There are so many factors to being healthy, fit and injury free as a musician. From your initial set up that suits your body, especially for violinists- the chin rest, shoulder rest etc, you need to have the right equipment and tools for learning the instrument, such as rosin or a good violin case. However, many may not be aware of the rigorous physical requirements involved in learning and performing. After all, your chin has to be constantly engaged in the correct posture, and your arm and finger muscles may tire quickly. These physical considerations are why some violinists strengthen their fingers by using a stress ball or practicing left-hand pizzicato. In this article, we will further explore why musicians must prioritize staying in shape and how physical fitness can significantly impact your musical journey.
The physical effects of playing an instrument
Playing an instrument can require complex movements and repetitive actions that can strain various muscle groups and joints. Musicians, especially those who play string or percussion instruments, may develop muscular imbalances and posture-related issues over time — which is why preventive activities to improve postural stability and balance are recommended in instrumental education. Pianists and guitarists, too, can experience discomfort and even injury due to repetitive finger movements.
Hours of practice sessions can lead to sedentary behaviour, resulting in reduced cardiovascular fitness and potential weight gain. A lack of physical activity can also lead to decreased stamina during performances, limiting an artist’s ability to perform at their best.
With regular exercise, you can enhance lung capacity and cardiovascular health, leading to improved endurance during extended performances. Stronger muscles and increased flexibility can also help musicians maintain better posture, reducing the risk of injuries and musculoskeletal issues. Additionally, exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can significantly influence a musician’s ability to perform under pressure. With a clear and focused mind, artists can connect more deeply with their music and deliver emotionally charged performances.
Tips for staying fit
as a musician
Embrace a balanced workout routine
Musicians should incorporate a diverse range of exercises into their fitness routines to target different muscle groups and strengthen their supportive musculature. Improving overall fitness and enhancing awareness of strength imbalances can help musicians thrive in the competitive landscape of professional music. Aerobic exercises like running, cycling, or swimming can boost cardiovascular health, while strength training can enhance muscular strength and endurance.
Prioritize weight loss with a structured plan
For musicians who play string or percussion instruments, excess weight can exacerbate issues like back pain or joint problems, hindering their ability to play with ease and finesse. That is why having a consistently structured weight loss plan is essential to any musician’s professional journey. A practical and flexible option to maintain a healthy weight is a fitness app, which can be used anywhere on the go, regardless of whether you’re on a musical tour or performing at a local concert. With a user-friendly platform, the popular app Weight Watchers can track food intake and physical activity, encouraging healthy eating habits and supporting long-term weight loss goals.
Take breaks and stretch
Long practice sessions can lead to fatigue and strain. Musicians thus need to take regular breaks during practice and stretch their muscles. Fitness coach Andrea Tam, CEO of virtual group training Tamfit Canada, suggests performing 10 minutes of mobility stretches three to five times weekly to keep blood circulation flowing. This reduces the risk of injury and helps maintain focus and productivity during practice sessions.
By embracing these tips, musicians can enjoy improved physical and mental well-being, leading to more fulfilling and successful careers in the long run. So, let the harmony of physical fitness and artistic mastery resonate within you as you embark on your musical journey.