Feldenkrais® for Musicians: Musican Pain and Injury

Musicians are susceptible to a wide range of injuries generally attributed to overuse. The combination of intense practicing with an overwhelming desire for excellence can result in hours of muscular stress. Musicians can sometimes experience their pain as the natural cost of being a disciplined player. However, pain and discomfort are not normal. Consistent pain and stress can actually cause long-term damage that is difficult to repair. Pain should be addressed as quickly as possible.

Aliza Stewart has extensive experience working with musicians who suffer from playing related injuries. Frequently, a musician will work with a physician, and a physical therapist to diagnose and treat their pain. Aliza can become a valued member of any treatment team providing an additional layer of therapeutic and educational help geared specifically for the needs of musicians.

As a rule, in the medical model addresses musicians’ injuries by focusing specifically on the painful areas. These areas are analyzed, and each addressed as an individual unit. This can lead to a temporary relief from a specific pain, but not to a change in the habitual patterns of actions that created the pain in the first place. Feldenkrais treats the player as an organic system in which the discrete parts can only function well when working together to carry out a musical intention.

Aliza addresses the musician’s movement flow of the entire self. Pain and injuries are approached by addressing the building blocks of human movement and helping the musician relearn a better approach to movement. The practice of looking for the movement flow of each person is wholistic, individualized, and highly effective. Please read more about how Feldenkrais for Musicians can assist with overall musical performance. (link)

Here are examples of playing related injuries that can be helped by Aliza and Feldenkrais for Musicians:

Musician Back Pain & Neck Pain

Back pain and neck pain are frequent complaints for musicians have to hold instruments in complicated configurations for hours of rehearsal or practice. If the brain, through tension and habitual constraints, cannot make constant, minute adjustment in weight shifting, speed, and orientation needed to play, the compulsive stress will produce a disproportionate wear and tear on different parts of the body. Feldenkrais can help organize the system to allow the adjustments needed to alleviate and resolve back pain and neck pain.

Musician Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Pianists, string players, and percussionists can suffer wrist pain that comes as a result of moving the hands from the wrist in vulnerable angles. It can express itself as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or Tendonitis.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The Carpal Tunnel is the area of the wrist where the median nerve enters the hand. When this area is inflamed, it can create numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the hand, fingers, and wrist.

Tendons are bands of tissue that connect our muscles to our bones. If these tendons become inflamed, the result can be quite painful. As the tendon is activated when we use a muscle, the problem can be debilitating. This inflammation is called Tendonitis and can be the result of poor blood supply to the tendon or overuse. Aliza has found in her years of practice Feldenkrais that most of the time the solution lies in the organization of the spine and the ability of the torso to support the weight of the person so that the arms can be light and fast in their movements.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Constant contraction of the muscles that connect the head to the torso can decrease the space in the thoracic outlet, which will create impingement of the nerves and blood vessels that run through it. This syndrome results in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the neck, shoulder, hand or forearm. Aliza can educate you how to let go of this tension at will until there is less and less time spent in this contracted position.

Healing the Whole Musician

As Aliza specializes in musicians, the following issues that are specific to musicians are addressed through her Feldenkrais private lessons and classesUsing the large muscles in the center of the body to ease the work of the arms and hands.

    • Organizing the power of the back to sustain an upright posture effortlessly.
    • Maintaining an even pace in breathing throughout a performance.
    • Shifting weight from one side to the other seamlessly to affect the sound and, in the case of keyboard playing, to move efficiently through the whole length of the piano.
    • Improving rhythmic acuity.
    • Improving the coordination between the eyes, neck and arms.

Feldenkrais for Musicians In-Depth Case Study

In the 2007 Spring Issue of Senseability Magazine, Aliza provided an interview about her specific work with a violist experiencing a musician injury and the positive outcomes of Feldenkrais for this musician. Read the complete Feldenkrais for Musicians article.


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