We use our hands, arms, shoulders and back every day for hundreds of different tasks. As most of these tasks can cause injuries all by themselves, it is especially important for injured musicians to pay attention to what they do throughout the day – not just while practicing – so that they don’t aggravate already injured muscles and tendons.
Don’t underestimate the cumulative effects of daily computer use. The Muscles and tendons in hands and arms are small and delicate. Typing, clicking, dragging and scrolling for multiple hours every day can be detrimental to these tissues. Whether you are injured or not, taking computer breaks and keeping good posture while at the keyboard are the keys to helping prevent computer-related injuries. If you are injured, try to limit your computer use as much as possible.
Opening and twisting things
Pulling open doors can be strenuous for muscles and tendons in your arms and back. If you are injured, consider using automatic door openers or let someone get the door for you. Likewise, twisting open tight jars and water bottle caps can strain an injury.
Writing may seem like a harmless activity, but after an hour-long class of heavy note taking, your wrist, arm or shoulder might be in pain. Using a pencil or ballpoint pen may ease some of the difficulties of writing. You can also use a finger gripper to help decrease the amount of force you’ll need to hold your pen or pencil.
Backpack or bags
Heavy backpacks and bags put a lot of pressure on our necks, shoulder girdles, and backs. Carrying a lighter load is a helpful idea to alleviate excess strain on your body. If you are already injured, avoid lifting your backpack or bag with only one hand. You might even consider leaving it on a table or chair so that it is easier to put on later without lifting.
Carrying heavy plates, trays, books, folders, boxes or appliances could aggravate your injury and cause pain.
Any activity that requires physical exertion could potentially cause or aggravate an injury. Strenuous activity includes things like:
- Moving furniture, heavy boxes or appliances.
- Sports like tennis, golfing, Frisbee, basketball, baseball, swimming, running, rock climbing and weight lifting.
- Lawn work like gardening, raking or shoveling.
- Carrying luggage.
Advice for everyday life
- When you do a task with your injured body part try to do it slowly, avoiding fast, abrupt motions. Consider using a different body part to complete the task, like a foot, elbow or shoulder.
- Use your whole body when doing a task. Pulling open a door should involve the muscles in your upper arm, shoulder, back, and abdominals, in addition to those in your forearm. Try to engage your whole body (especially your legs and abdominals) when lifting a box or a backpack, rather than just your arms and back.
- Let other people help you. It may be hard to admit that you need help doing basic things like opening a door or unscrewing a jar, but many people will be willing to help you out.