How do violinists avoid getting serious playing injuries? Have you come across a violinist who has had an injury? Unfortunately most professional violinists would answer this with a yes. It’s no wonder that musicians are often compared to athletes, we use our muscles repetitively in the same moves every time we pick up our instrument. Violinists often report injuries of repetitive strain injury, most often in the shoulders, arms or wrist joints.
What are the main contributors to injuries amongst violinists? There are 5 that we can come up with:
- Bad posture, positioning of violin, standing/sitting positions.
- Poor technique, tension in playing (e.g. gripping the violin and bow).
- Practising without suitable stretching breaks.
- Genes: pre-disposed to muscle/joint issues.
- Panic practising (e.g. cramming in practise for a lesson!).
And of course all of the above points can be aggravated further by lack of sleep/stress etc.
Let’s take a look at how we can overcome these issues. The first step to preventing injuries is awareness of your posture and practise habits (good and bad!), the times you practise, how effective your practise is, how many breaks you are taking and so on. Here’s a list of things that can help with becoming more aware:
- Record your practise, watch and evaluate.
- Play to others as much as possible – online or to family/friends. Make a mini concert out of it and ask for feedback!
- Be aware of tension in both hands/arms/shoulder.
- Practise in front of a full length mirror and monitor posture/technique constantly.
- Don’t forget to spend time practising without your violin (tapping out rhythms and singing with a metronome, fingering without using the bow). This will help you prepare your piece mentally as well as physically.
Awareness alone isn’t enough to prevent injuries of course. It’s essential that violinists have an effective warm up/stretch routine so they can prepare their muscles and cool down afterwards. Our warm up videos/finger stretching videos for violinists can be found in our digital library.
OTHER INJURY PREVENTION TIPS
- Play for short stretches (no more than 20 minutes at a time), taking regular breaks to stretch out.
- Standing is best for practising, but if you need to sit down be careful to choose the right chair (a seat wedge is recommended too!) and avoid perching on a stool or the sofa which can create back problems.
- Keep regular practise hours.
- Needless to say if you feel any pain stop immediately.