Neuromusculoskeletal Health

The neuromusculoskeletal system refers to the complete system of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and associated nerves and tissues that allow us to move and to speak and to sing. This system also supports our body’s structure. The “neuro” part of the term “neuromusculoskeletal” refers to our nervous system that coordinates the ways in which our bodies move and operate.

The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord, and the hundreds of billions of nerves responsible for transmitting information from the brain to the rest of the body and back again in an endless cycle. Our nervous systems allow us to move, to sense, and to act in both conscious and unconscious ways. We could not listen to, enjoy, sing, or play music without these structures. In fact, making any change in our approach to movement, particularly to the array of complex movements needed for the performance of music, means working closely with our nervous system so that any automatic, unconscious or poor habits may be replaced with healthy, constructive, and coordinate movement choices.

Protecting Your Neuromusculoskeletal Health

The following information was provided by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA):

  • Neuromusculoskeletal health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.
  • Practicing and performing music is physically demanding.
  • Musicians are susceptible to numerous neuromusculoskeletal disorders.
  • Some musculoskeletal disorders are related to behavior; others are genetic; still others are the result of trauma or injury. Some genetic conditions can increase a person’s risk of developing certain behavior-related neuromusculoskeletal disorders.
  • Many neuromusculoskeletal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable
  • Sufficient physical and musical warm-up time is important.
  • Good posture and correct physical technique are essential.
  • Regular breaks during practice and rehearsal are vital in order to prevent undue physical stress and strain.
  • It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time that you will practice in a day
  • Avoid sudden increases in practice times.
  • Know your body, its limits and avoid “overdoing it.”
  • Maintain healthy habits. Safeguard your physical and mental health.
  • Day-to-day decisions can impact your neuromusculoskeletal health, both now and in the future. Since muscle and joint strains and a myriad of other injuries can occur in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own neuromusculoskeletal health on a daily basis, particularly with regard to your performing medium and area of specialization.
  • If you are concerned about your personal neuromusculoskeletal health, talk with a medical professional.
  • If you are concerned about your neuromusculoskeletal health in relationship to your program of study, consult the Department of Music.

Safe Lifting and Carrying Techniques

Make it a habit to follow these steps when lifting anything-even a relatively light object.

  • Size up the load and check overall conditions. Don’t attempt the lift by yourself if the load appears to be too heavy or awkward.  Check that there is enough space for movement, and that the footing is good. “Good housekeeping” ensures that you won’t trip or stumble over an obstacle.
  • Make certain that your balance is good. Feet should be shoulder width apart, with one foot beside and the other foot behind the object that is to be lifted.
  • Bend the knees; don’t stoop. Keep the back straight, but not vertical.  (Tucking in the chin straightens the back.)
  • Grip the load with the palms of your hands and your fingers.  The palm grip is much more secure.  Tuck in the chin again to make certain your back is straight before starting to lift.
  • Use your body weight to start the load moving, then lift by pushing up with the legs. This makes full use of the strongest set of muscles.Keep the arms and elbows close to the body while lifting.
  • Carry the load close to the body. Don’t twist your body while carrying the load. To change direction, shift your foot position and turn your whole body.
  • Watch where you are going!
  • To lower the object, bend the knees. Don’t stoop. Make sure your hands and feet are clear when placing the load.

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