About Me

My photo
Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States
Professor of Saxophone, James Madison University

Friday, January 6, 2012

Practice Monster Injuries

Musicians often suffer injuries at the hand of Practice Monster.  Over the years, I've struggled with tendon issues, particularly in my wrists.  Here are some thoughts about how I've dealt with injury.

* Please, I am not a doctor!  This is not medical advice, and I strongly advise anyone in pain to be evaluated by a professional.  This is simply what has worked for me.  If you are in pain, seek professional help!!!*

1.  The cycle of injury, swelling, and pain cannot be stopped without rest.  Rest is key.  Without rest, things only get worse.

2.  Ice is the bomb of all healers for me.  I fill a pitcher with ice water and dip my hand, including the wrist, for 10 seconds.  I do this every 5-10 minutes until the ice has melted.  Once a day, for a week, while making every effort to rest.  This website helped me:  tendonitisexpert.com

3.  Tight muscles slow down the healing.  I take a hot bath, soaking my arm until the muscles are released.  Better yet, I go straight from there to the ice dip treatment.  If a hot water soak isn't practical, a percussion massager will help loosen things up.

4.  Never practice with cold hands!  Take the time to warm up (literally) and get the circulation going.

5.  Recent studies indicate that stretching might not be the best idea.  Some experts recommend slowly easing yourself into the activity instead, as stretching cold muscles could actually encourage injury.  Read this:  msnbc.com

6.  Evaluate what you are doing to cause injury, and modify that behavior.  I rarely hurt myself playing the saxophone anymore, but I do a job on my wrists working around the house.  Painting, scraping, and using the drill or the power driver are all killers, and I don't even think about using a manual screwdriver for anything but small jobs.

To sum up:

When you have pain, rest.  Use heat to release tense muscles, and ice to encourage healing.  Most importantly, eliminate the behavior that caused the injury in the first place.  Reliance on braces and Advil will only send you down the spiral of perpetual injury, and re-injury.