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Symphony of Pain: How to Battle Pain While Playing the Violin

Symphony of Pain: How to Battle Pain While Playing the Violin

There is a common debate about how many hours someone should practice playing the violin to become an advanced violinist.

However, with the hours of practice that go in to becoming a good performer come some postural issues and possible pain that may limit a person’s ability to practice as often as they like.

The neck must be in a forward and slightly bent position to maintain stability of the violin on the shoulder.

The shoulder that the violinist is holding the violin with must also come forward and be held at an appropriate position to sufficiently support the violin during practice.

 

This can lead to tightness in the chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor) and neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, upper trapezius and suboccipital muscles).

It can also lead to weakness in the neck muscles (deep cervical flexors) and the back muscles (rhomboids, serratus anterior, middle trapezius).

 

This can lead to poor and sometimes painful posturing with practicing over time.

The following are quick and easy exercises to prevent or treat these issues:

1. Wall Pectoralis Major Stretch

  1. Stand in a doorway.
  2. Place the hand of the shoulder to be stretched flat against the doorway with the shoulder away from your body (at a 90 degree angle).
  3. Place the inside of the bent arm on the surface of the wall.
  4. Gently turn your body away from the arm that is being stretched.

 

2 rounds of 1 minute holds

2. Chin Tucks

  1. Slowly draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders.

 

20 times for 5 second holds

3. Scapula Squeezes

  1. Squeeze shoulder blades together.

 

3 rounds for 10 repetitions

4. Serratus Punches

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended out in the front of your body and towards the ceiling.
  2. While keeping your elbows straight, protract your shoulders forward towards the ceiling.
  3. Keep your elbows straight the entire time.

 

3 rounds for 10 repetitions

5. “Y” Lifts

  1. Lie face down with your elbows straight and arms out in front of your body.
  2. The shoulder should be approximately 120 degrees abducted.
  3. Slowly raise your arms upward.
  4. Return to the original position.
  5. Your thumbs should be pointed upwards the entire time.

 

2 rounds for 10 repetitions

6. “W” Lifts

  1. Lie face down with your elbows bent.
  2. Slowly raise your arms upward as you retract your shoulder blades.
  3. Return to the original position.
  4. Your palms should be directed downward the entire time.

 

2 rounds of 10 repetitions

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Jonathan Ebert, PT, DPT
Jonathan is a New Hampshire native, arriving in California in 2012. He enjoys going to the beach with his wife, running, and playing lacrosse. He is currently a member of a Southern California men’s lacrosse league.