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Movement for Musicians: Why Your Body Needs Just as Much Attention as Your Instrument

This blog post was written by Rhia Morsberger — a Maryland-based yoga instructor and mobility specialist who will be teaching a Movement for Musicians workshop for the School of Musical Traditions on March 8th.

Anyone who uses their body for some art, sport, or trade will experience some effect of physical overuse or fatigue.

For musicians, it is not so much the movement itself (e.g. working their wrists and arm muscles to play an instrument, maintaining poor posture during practice, etc.) so much as the lack of variety in the movements that get them into trouble.

What you really need to treat those aches and pains is actually more movement.

I can teach you all kinds of novel exercises and creative ways to move more and feel better, but what it really comes down to is actually doing these exercises and keeping yourself accountable.

If you get anything out of this blog post, it is that you should explore how your body can move on a regular basis—whether it’s by walking more, getting up and down off the floor, or stretching in familiar ways—and then you should actually do those things.

You should also always try to drink more water and get adequate rest so your tissues are more like juicy steaks rather than beef jerky.

As a yoga instructor and a dancer who has worked in the fitness world for many years, I’m always teaching my fellow dancers about joint longevity, injury prevention, and performance enhancement.  For the general public, I’ve found that a lot of folks tend to go for what’s fun instead of functional—and that’s ok.

While it is important to pursue activities that bring us joy, it’s also important to challenge our own blind spots—which is where I come in.

Cartilage, disks, and menisci are nourished by synovial fluids, which are distributed to our joint capsules through movement.

The joint capsule contains a high number of movement “receptors” (i.e. mechanoreceptors), which are the first things to perceive motion… so why not activate all of those receptors with broader active movements for better physical feedback? (i.e. better balance, clearer mental map of the body, improved ability to adapt to environmental changes.)

One of my favorite fitness terms is Katy Bowman’s phrase “Movement Nutrition,” which means that —similarly to how eating the same meals day after day might not feel very sustainable or nourishing—our bodies will also feel malnourished without a balanced diet of different movements.

It’s probably hard to focus on playing music when your body parts are speaking (or screaming) loudly in protest—but if you make a habit out of moving your joints and getting adequate rest, you can easily minimize those issues.

If you have been experiencing music-related aches and pains, then sign up for my upcoming “Movement for Musicians” workshop on March 8th from 7PM to 8:15PM! And don’t be afraid to let me know if your hands/wrists, neck, shoulders, or back need a little more TLC or flexibility—I’ve got you covered!

Already planning to attend? Then be sure and wear some clothes you can move in freely and consider using an exercise mat or some nearby cushions. If you have difficulty getting up and down off the floor, have a chair handy.

Rhiannon began her yoga journey in 2005 after recovering from a serious dance-related fracture. After starting with home videos and the “Yoga Mind & Body” book from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, she was instantly hooked by the philosophy and started studying at the Yoga Center of Columbia for several years. In addition to being an E-RYT, RPYT, FRCms, FRAs and certified in Thai yoga therapy, Rhiannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the American University. A deep dive in academia was another educational point where she realized she needed to be out in the world applying her practice and moving her body. In addition to teaching & coaching, Rhia dances professionally in the Baltimore/DC metro area and specializes in dances from the MENAT region (mid-east, north Africa & Turkey). She has weekly public performances and occasionally private events (i.e. weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and a variety of other family friendly events). Be sure and check out her website Wellness With Rhia to learn more.