I’m going to go ahead and make a not so bold statement: people should exercise. We no longer live in an extremely active society, and sitting in a practice room for hours a day probably doesn’t help matters.
I love to lift weights and do more high intensity exercises at least 3-4 times/week, but I also balance that by walking everywhere I can and going for a few longer walks during the week. While I think lifting is a superior way to take your body to the next level, any exercise is outstanding. Musicians probably share some of the same postural problems as the office worker due to how much time we spend sitting–combine that the time we spend at the computer each day and you have a recipe for a deteriorating posture. A little bit of movement can go a long way to help out.
A while ago Tony Gentilcore and Jimmy Smith wrote two articles giving suggestions for what “the computer guy” should do to improve his or her posture–in reality the computer guy is probably just about everyone. The first describes some suggestions for what should be done as far as weight training and gives an overview of some common postural deficiencies. The second is of particular interest to us because it gives suggestions of things that can be done throughout the day (no gym required!) to help improve our posture and feel better.
Your body is your instrument. Many musicians don’t respect what their body really means to their career. I’m here to tell you that it is extremely important to respect the thing with which you make music. Make it a habit now to move around more and you’ll thank me later.
A few notable tips from the articles that can be very applicable to musicians:
- Postural corrections throughout the day (pull your shoulder blades back, chest up, etc.) or just shift sitting position every 15-20 minutes
- quit carrying your instrument with the same hand all the time, same with any other bag/backpack
- Feet flat on the floor when sitting
- every half hour or so get up and walk around
For guitarists, the footstool presents a particular problem. Some can get away with it and not have a problem. Others cannot. There are a lot of options for guitar supports, and they are worth checking into. The thing to feel for is if you can’t lift your leg to put it on the footstool without leaning or twisting your body. It should just be as easy as lifting up your leg. If you are having back pain after sitting for a while, a bit of experimentation with any of the numerous guitar supports can pay off.
As a final note, it can be worth it to check into a good trainer. Look for a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) or someone who specializes in postural correction.