In this keynote, perspectives will be presented on the ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ components of managing health in musicians. Several of the approaches and evidence emerging from the fields of sport and dance medicine will be presented to compare strategies that can be implemented to optimise performance health in musicians.
Attaining an elite level in human performance domains requires a long-term commitment to regular and repetitive training to achieve the desired level of skill mastery. A fine line is often walked between pushing the body hard enough to increase or maintain performance levels but not overextending to the point that an injury occurs. Increasingly in sport and dance, a wide range of interventions have been implemented in training to mitigate risk and prevent injuries wherever possible, including a focus on health education in improving training practices. Alongside domain-specific upskilling of health professionals, this has helped advance injury management and returns to performance approach in sport and dance domains, while music lags behind.
In the first part of this keynote, models used to identify and subsequently modify key risk factors related to overuse-related injuries in dancers and musicians will be presented, and some of the challenges in implementing these systems will be discussed. The cornerstone of preparing a musician for their craft involves specific health education aimed at increasing their performance capacity, including making informed and appropriate health decisions to practice and perform safely. However, recent research on musicians’ health literacy, the ability to access and understand reliable, specific health information and translate this knowledge into practical settings, may be a barrier that should be addressed to facilitate changes in health behaviours. This highlights how maintaining optimal performance and preventing injuries can be impacted by the availability and comprehensibility of domain-specific health information.
In the second part of this keynote, research relating to the assessment and management of performance-related neuromuscular health issues will be presented. This will highlight the range of variables that have been found to impact injuries and movement issues occurring in musicians, particularly with typical chronic overuse-related conditions. Research findings such as the relationship between altered playing movements and pain and physical characteristics of the instrument and performer will be discussed in relation to developing effective treatment strategies.
Finally, this presentation will discuss recovery and return to performance strategies which may facilitate the prevention of injury recurrence.