Musicians of all types are affected by long playing times, and can be subject to repetitive stress injuries. Ergonomics, the science of designing equipment for human use to reduce injury, can be applied to musicians as well as office workers.
Check your Posture
Good posture is a key to maintaining good health. Many instruments may be played either sitting or standing, and those positions stretch different parts of the body. Wind musicians learn early on that they cannot make as good or stable a sound without sitting up straight, but a guitar or piano player may only have pain without the proper posture.
Staying healthy is more than just avoiding injuries for musicians. Take care of yourself if you want to play well. Warm up with exercises targeted to problem areas, such as wrists or hands. Start with warm-up songs as well, before diving into that tough number you are perfecting. Remember to strengthen your core muscle groups, too, so you can be seated in good posture for the entire music session. A healthy body weight is recommended to keep the instrument in the proper placement. (I had a musician friend who switched from acoustic to electric guitar while she was pregnant because she could no longer hold the acoustic properly.) Take breaks and stretch again after the session is completed.
What About Kids?
Children have the same problems and more for repetitive stress injuries than adults do. Have a teacher help with posture, and remind her to sit or stand up straight while practicing. Instruments were designed for adults, so there may be spacing issues with keys for the smaller hands.
If It Hurts, Get Help!
Pain is the body’s way of saying something is wrong. Ignoring the pain doesn’t make it go away, and it will lead to greater injury down the road. Good habits ingrained early on will keep you playing throughout your life without pain or fear of surgery.