When Performing Hurts

Pretty much any job comes with the risk of getting injured while working. However, performers, whether they be dancers or musicians, run the risk of debilitating injuries from repetitive movements or continuous use of body parts. What makes these types of injury particularly pernicious is that regular practice and performance is vital to honing skills, and constant use of a performer’s body does not permit much downtime. This lack of rest can eventually result in cumulative career-ending injuries.

Typical performance injuries can include carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve impingement syndrome, vocal nodes, torn tendons and ligaments and severely strained muscles. Treatment plans may include forced periods of rest, physical therapy and even surgery. However, there is good news in that Feldenkrais and Alexander Techniques may prevent repeated injuries.

Both techniques teach participants how to use their bodies in the most efficacious way to reduce pain, remove limitations on movement and to prevent injuries. I found Feldenkrais clasees to be a bit too strenuous when dealing with a nerve impingement syndrome. The Alexander technique classes were more simple, less painful and consisted of re-learning basic movements such as piano keyboard skills, typing, reaching for a phone, standing up, sitting down and walking. The objective is to learn better use of your body to eliminate pain. Both techniques and physical therapy may eliminate the need for surgery.

However, if you do need to see a doctor for a performance-related injury, the Performing Arts Medical Association, has a referral service online. While this service is not exhaustive, it can get you started with finding help and also provides counseling referrals that can help you deal with the stress of injury.

There is also the journal, Medical Problems of Performing Artists which includes scholarly studies and information on performance injuries in both music and dance.

Recovery from a performance injury is not easy. However, you will be more likely to heal quickly if you recognize that a combination of medical help, allied therapies and rest are critical to regaining optimum performance health.

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