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Physical therapy for musicians: What you should know

2 minutes, 49 seconds

Playing music is a very physical activity. When you strum on a guitar or pluck away at the piano, you activate many parts of your musculoskeletal system.

Just like a seasoned athlete will start to feel the effects of all that hard work over time, musicians may start to feel aches and pains in their muscles and joints.

That's why many physical therapy clinics offer physical therapy for musicians. We understand that playing music has physical side effects, and we have the expertise to help musicians.

Below, we'll discuss some common reasons why musicians need physical therapy and how therapists treat musicians.

Why do some musicians need physical therapy?

Playing music is a casual but intense practice. Most musicians don't stretch or warm up before they start playing, but they may play for hours on end with no breaks.

Thus, musicians are prone to injuring themselves or overextending their muscles. They are also susceptible to developing chronic aches and pains in their bones, joints, and muscles.

Here are some common injuries and conditions that musicians experience:

  • Rotator cuff injuries ” Tears in the muscles around the shoulder joint.
  • Arthritis ” Inflammation around the joints in the hands, arms, or other parts of the body.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome Finger pain caused by pressure placed on nerves in the wrist.
  • Chronic headaches Recurring headaches caused by inflammation in the blood vessels in or around the brain.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome ” A condition characterized by pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers. Occurs when the blood vessels between the collarbone and first rib are pinched or compressed.
  • Tendinitis Inflammation in any of the tendons, including the elbows, shoulders or wrists.
  • Bursitis Inflammation in the bursae, or the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints.

Performing musicians might also develop balance disorders due to overexposure to loud music and bright lights. Fortunately, many clinics offer physical therapy for balance disorders.

Physical therapy treatments for musicians

Some musicians may think that physical therapy is a waste of time, but that's not true. A simple hand injury can turn into a much bigger problem in your upper extremity later on, but physical therapy can help prevent that from happening.

When you meet with a physical therapist, they'll assess your condition and develop a treatment plan for your specific injuries or conditions. Here are some common methods that physical therapists use to treat musicians:

  • Manual therapy Manual therapy is a type of treatment where the physical therapist physically manipulates your joints and soft tissue with their bare hands, relieving tension and increasing blood flow.
  • Stretches and exercises Physical therapists will teach you stretches and exercises that can help you warm up for playing and prevent future injuries.
  • Heat therapy Targeted heat application can increase blood flow to your injured body part, speeding up your recovery time.
  • Cold compression therapy Targeted ice application can reduce swelling in your injured body part.
  • Dry needling This is a treatment technique that involves tiny filaments inserted through the skin to relieve muscle tension and increase mobility.

Alliance PTP is ready to help musicians find top-notch PT

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address your symptoms.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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