Avoiding Injury for String Players
Physical imbalances in your body are often dangerous and lead to injury. Imagine if, instead of walking, you could only skip around on your left foot.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This piece was written for entertainment/informational purposes only. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
Many people have an activity they could do for hours on end. From video games to basketball, everyone wishes they could keep on having fun. However, we all get tired and eventually need to take a break. The same thing happens to our bodies when we practice.
Imagine if, instead of walking, you could only skip around on your left foot. Getting from class to class would be a pain! You might break a leg, and not in a good way.
Physical imbalances in your body are often dangerous and lead to injury. Being in an unnatural position, such as leaning to the right in your desk at school, can hurt you if you stay in it too long. For violin and viola players, our normal playing position is extremely unnatural.
Our chin is slightly tilted to make room for the shoulder rest, and many people turn their head towards their left side. Our left arm is in a raised position while our hand moves around the fingerboard, and our right arm has to extend and contract to move the bow. Obviously, this is very weird for the body, and string players can easily injure themselves if they have unhealthy posture and bad habits. Combined with marathon rehearsals and long performances, our bodies withstand lots of stress, so we have to take care of ourselves to avoid injury.
One way to improve your posture is to focus on relaxing your shoulders while playing. Our shoulders get very busy when our left hand shifts around and our right arm completes string crossings. Lots of tension builds up in our shoulders. Try dropping your shoulders as you play to release this stress from your body. It’s like doing yoga while you practice! My right shoulder used to bug me a lot, and focusing on relaxing my body helped me get over this problem.
On the topic of yoga, another way to prevent injury is to breathe! Although this might be complicated for wind and brass players, it’s not too hard to implement for strings. When you practice for a while and start to feel tight, take a deep breath. After holding it in, slowly release it and feel your body get lighter. This is another trick that helps me release tension in my body, and I wish I had learned it earlier.
My final piece of advice is to take care of your body outside of practicing. Whether it’s eating healthy foods within a balanced diet, getting more sleep, or doing a few stretches every day, taking care of yourself is one of the best preventative measures against injury.