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Back Troubles (Read 3696 times)

Offline ScaryCarphone

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Back Troubles
« on: March 15, 2003, 05:53:52 AM »
I am seeking help to find out why my upper back, namely under the shoulder blades, hurts so much when I play.  I have upper back problems in general but when I play it hurts almost unbearably.  My hands, wrists, and arms are relatively relaxed.  Does anyone else have this problem?  How can I prevent this pain?  Thanks!

Offline tosca1

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Re: Back Troubles
«Reply #1 on: March 15, 2003, 08:50:05 AM »
Dear ScaryCarphone,
It would seem that your problem is postural and it may be helpful to sit calmly at the piano with your feet relaxed, on the floor and comfortably apart and with your back straight but relaxed. Allow your arms and hands to hang loosely at each side. Be conscious of your posture and seating position as you play and although this my feel initially strange, continue and see if the pain develops.

There is the Alexander Technique which you could investigate.  This technique is closely linked to posture and the position of the spine as you play.  Its corrective stategies may be very helpful for you and are considered highly beneficial in facilitating the physical and technical aspects of playing a musical instrument.

If problems persist then medical intervention may be necessary.
Often back problems are linked to lack of condition of the back muscles and a light fitness programme of walking or jogging could be useful or any exercises  that will strengthen the back and shoulder muscles.

I sometimes have a tension pain in the upper back and shoulders when I have been playing a lot and have not been careful about my posture at the piano.

Best wishes for an improvement.
Robert.

Offline ScaryCarphone

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Re: Back Troubles
«Reply #2 on: March 15, 2003, 07:47:30 PM »
I appreciate very much your reply.  Your tips were very helpful and I will begin my investigation!  I have been playing a lot recently, learning new pieces for a future concert, and I bet the pain would greatly decrease with better posture and a calmer approach.  I've read up on upper back problems and one of the main causes (besides posture and overuse) is being stressed.  Yes, I have stresses!  I'm glad I have a clue now as to why it hurts so much!  Thanks again!

Offline rachfan

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Re: Back Troubles
«Reply #3 on: March 15, 2003, 08:38:43 PM »
Another practical way to alleviate the pain might be to shift from a piano bench to a straight-backed chair for awhile.  It must be of the correct height, of course.  I saw Radu Lupu and Arturo Michelangeli both use chairs in the past, and assumed that they too had back problems at the time.  If you try this, you'll need to experiment a little.  With a bench or artist bench, we position it on the floor such that we sit forward on only the front half while playing.  My sense is that you might have to sit a bit farther back in the chair, not leaning on the back, yet being close enough to do so comfortably when opportunities arise to gain some relief.

One other point: Upper back takes in the shoulders.  Sometimes pianists, unknowingly, tend to raise their shoulders during deep concentration on their playing--a manifestation of tensing up.  Because they are totally unaware of it, they make no attempt to lower the shoulders either.  That starts pain in the neck that quickly refers into the shoulders.  Tip: Consciously ask yourself, "Are my shoulders raised up high?"  If you find that, you'll lower them immediately to the natural, relaxed position.  If you catch yourself doing that, keep reminding yourself, and eventually you'll break the habit entirely, as the conscious becomes incorporated into the subconscious.

I hope this helps.

Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline ScaryCarphone

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Re: Back Troubles
«Reply #4 on: March 15, 2003, 09:42:52 PM »
Thank you!  I personally prefer sitting on the front part of the bench because it gives me a greater sense of my weight  being pushed forward.  This may be a mental thing.  I will try to get a chair with a back (I think this is a great idea) if I can find one high enough for my height!  I fear I will be leaning forward too much though.  Your right, I've seen quite a few in concert with backs on their chairs and wondered why they preferred that.  For the shoulder thing, I read in a previous forum (I think) about the raised shoulders thing, and since then, I've always been checking myself.  I feel much more relaxed and more in control when my shoulders aren't up in the air!  Thank you for your help!

Offline rachfan

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Re: Back Troubles
«Reply #5 on: March 17, 2003, 03:50:02 AM »
Hi Scary,

If in trying chairs you find yourself sitting a little lower than you're accustomed to, try it out anyway for a little while.  Horowitz always sat low, and many of us prefer that too.  I think it produces a richer sound than being higher.  I keep my artist bench as low as it will go.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.