Dr. Corey Hillman, DPT
Common Injuries for Musicians: Woodwind Instrumentalist
Playing a woodwind instrument requires a lot of skill and practice, but it can also put a lot of stress on the body. Woodwind players can experience a variety of injuries, from simple strains and sprains to more serious conditions that can affect their ability to play. In this blog, we'll discuss the top 3 injuries for woodwind instrumentalists and what you can do to prevent them
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. This can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist. Woodwind players are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome because of the repetitive hand movements required to play their instruments. This condition can be very painful and can make it difficult to play or even hold an instrument.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it's important to take frequent breaks while playing and to stretch your hands and wrists regularly. You can also try using ergonomic hand grips or wrist supports to help alleviate the strain on your hands and wrists.
Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Woodwind players are at risk for developing tendinitis in their shoulders, arms, and hands because of the repetitive motions required to play their instruments. This condition can make it difficult to play and can even require prolonged rest to heal.
To prevent tendinitis, it's important to warm up before playing and to stretch your arms and shoulders regularly. You can also try using a posture strap to help keep your shoulders in a neutral position and to avoid overuse of your arms and hands.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a condition that affects the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. Woodwind players are at risk for developing TMJ because of the pressure placed on their jaw and mouth while playing. This condition can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth, making it difficult to play or even speak. To prevent TMJ, it's important to use good posture while playing and to avoid clenching your jaw or teeth. You can also try using a mouthguard or a custom-made bite splint to help alleviate the pressure on your jaw and to prevent grinding or clenching your teeth.
In conclusion, playing a woodwind instrument requires a lot of physical effort and can put a lot of stress on the body. However, by taking preventative measures and practicing good habits, you can reduce your risk of injury and continue to play your instrument for years to come. Remember to always listen to your body and to seek medical attention if you experience any pain or discomfort while playing.
Dr. Corey Hillman is a Physical Therapist and owner of Gate City Physio – a boutique physical therapy clinic in Downtown Greensboro. He specializes in working with professional and amatuer musicians and performing artists seeking to perform at their best.