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Being a musician is not as easy as walking up on stage and rocking out, there are a lot of challenges and we’re going to look at some of the common problem’s musicians face in this in-depth article.
The hours of practice, late nights and repetitive movement that a lot of musical practice and performance demands on the body can take its toll.
Even the super stars are not immune to injury and illness, with cancelled shows and tours often being the end result from burning out from the stresses of a musician’s life.
Not all of us can be as heroic as Dave Grohl who famously returned to finish a gig when he broke his leg after falling into a security pit two songs into a Foo Fighters concert in Sweden.
Check out this video of the front man returning to the stage after getting patched up in the hospital.
That’s true rock ‘n’ roll!
Hopefully you won’t be looking at a broken leg anytime soon, just make sure you know where you’re landing if you’re planning to jump off a stage.
Instead where going to look at some of the most common ailments and problems that musicians face and try to give you some guidance on how to over come them.
This article will discuss how to overcome:
- Joint Pain
- Singer’s sore throat
Feel free to sit back with a coffee and read through this detailed guide to overcome common problems faced by musicians or if you know the problem you’re suffering from, skip ahead to that section to get the help you need.
How to overcome joint pain – a guide to musicians’ finger
Musicians are just as likely to suffer from musculoskeletal injuries as athletes.
In 2006 a study of 264,000 musicians reported that 76% of professional musicians described musculoskeletal injuries at some point throughout their career.
It’s a super-common problem!
These injuries can be career ending if not taken care of with the correct treatment and adjustments to your playing style.
What causes joint pain in musicians?
There is a variety of environmental factors that can lead up to joint pain in musicians, but here at the top 3 cause
- Playing style – pressing hard with your hands and fingers on your instrument can cause stress to the joints in your hand and wrist
- Back and neck injuries – the joints receive their nerve supply mostly from the radial nerve which stems from the lower neck, injuries here can result in joint pain as far down as your fingers and toes!
- Nutrition – a poor diet can lead to inflammation in the body which can result in swelling and discomfort in your joints
How to overcome joint pain in musicians
Fortunately, there are some simple changes you can make to your playing style and lifestyle habits to help reduce the risk and likely hood of you developing joint pain throughout your musical career.
- Playing style
Sometimes simply playing your instrument with less force can reduce the irritation in your hands and joints.
If you could reduce the force by 50% and still hit the notes you need, theoretically you could play for twice as long and use up half the energy – keeping your joints safer.
If you play guitar and you suffer from joint pain it might be worth taking your guitar to the local music shop and asking for the action to be lowered.
This will mean that the strings will be closer to the fret board, so you have to apply less pressure to get the same sound.
- Back and neck injury
This is can be extremely common for heavy metal bands who head bang and throw themselves into a mosh pit.
Even if you don’t feel it straight away even slight damage can affect your nerves over time.
Think back to past injuries and ask yourself if you can remember any neck or back pain, if so, this could be contributing to your joint pain today.
A chiropractor should be able to identify this pain and recommend some adjustments to reduce the pain in your joints.
If chiropractors are not your thing, yoga can also be a great tool to address neck and back problems.
With regularly practice you will improve your posture and the alignment of your spine to create space in the neck and back to give your nerves the room they need to breathe and relieve you of your joint pain.
Here’s a YouTube video to get your started, it’s worth doing even if you don’t have any pain right now.
Prehab is better than rehab!
A junk food diet will cause inflammation in your body putting unnecessary stress on your joints.
If you continue to play music and perform with an inflamed body, you can cause long term damage which could ultimately stop you playing completely.
A balanced diet with meals that include a small amount of carbohydrates, good levels of protein and fats which veggies to provide you with vitamins and mineral is a good place to start.
If you are already suffering from joint pain, then look into supplementing with borage oil or flax seed oil to help alleviate symptoms.
See the image below for a list of 10 foods to help you fight inflammation.
What is tinnitus and how to reduce symptoms
Another common problem musicians face is tinnitus.
Which is generally caused by over exposure to loud noises.
Tinnitus is the perception of sounds and noises in the head or ear which have no external source.
Occasionally people have tinnitus that can seem like a familiar tune or song, this is called musical tinnitus or musical hallucination, this type of tinnitus is most common in musicians and party goers.
Tinnitus can come in different levels of severity; mild cases can be unnoticed in your day to day lives and only really noticeable in complete silence.
However, severe cases can be debilitating and often leads to people avoiding social situations entirely because they can’t cope with not being able to hear what their friends and family are saying to them.
How to overcome tinnitus?
For the musicians that find themselves with tinnitus from over exposure to loud noises and from standing next to loud amplifiers for years, there are a variety of ways to address the problem of tinnitus.
Please note that the following suggestion are not based on any professional medical advice and if you have a serious case of tinnitus it is important to consult a medical professional for the right treatment programme.
- Supplements for tinnitus
There are two main supplements that have been reported to improve the symptoms of tinnitus in some individuals.
Some studies have shown a correlation between magnesium and the reduction in tinnitus symptoms in some people.
A 2012 study from the university of Arizona concluded that magnesium may have a beneficial effect on the perception on tinnitus symptoms.
All three of our Noosician supplements for musicians and performers have magnesium in their formulas.
According to over 10 studies, supplementing with products including magnesium like our Master, Perform and Sleep products may help to reduce your symptoms of tinnitus.
Head over to our website now to find out more and have a look at our nootropic supplements for musicians.
[insert image of the three bottles]
Additionally, supplementing with ginkgo biloba has also been suggested to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.
A double-blind placebo study found that 34 participants receiving active treatment with a ginkgo biloba supplement found their symptoms to be less troubling after a 12-week programme.
Unfortunately, lots of the other reports on the effectiveness of this herb for tinnitus have been anecdotal and not backed up by scientific research.
- Noise suppression for tinnitus treatment
Sometime suppressing external noise can help subdue the symptoms of tinnitus so that it becomes less bothersome and detrimental to your daily life.
Doctors may prescribe the use of a variety of different electronic devices to cancel out the tinnitus noise, such as:
- White noise machine – this is basically a speaker that can play either background white noise or the noise of ocean waves crashing to distract you from the noise that tinnitus creates
- Sleeping with a fan of dehumidifier – the hum of a fan when you’re sleeping can reduce and quash the noise you hear from tinnitus as well
- Masking ear plugs – worn in your ear, similar to hearing aids, these devices produce a continuous low-level white noise that supresses tinnitus symptoms
- Lifestyle and home remedies
If supplementing, medication, or noise suppression doesn’t work here are some more tips and tricks you can practice to help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
- Avoid irritants
The most common irritants include loud noises, caffeine and nicotine. If you are still exposing yourself to any of these irritants, then try experimenting with removing them from your day to day life.
If you remove one at a time it will be possible to isolate which one has the biggest impact.
- Manage stress
Increased stress levels can make tinnitus symptoms worse. Stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation and relaxation therapy can reduce stress levels and possibly ease your symptoms of tinnitus as well.
- Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol dilates your blood vessels increasing the force of blood flow throughout your body, especially in your inner ears.
This is also a factor as to why your balance and equilibrium is not the same when drunk.
The increased blood flow can actually cause the perceived noise of tinnitus to increase.
Consuming less alcohol may reduce this related symptom.
A musician’s hangover – the worst kind of hangover known to humankind
Unless you are suffering from tinnitus, most musicians are over-exposed to alcohol compared to the general public.
Before you make it to the big-time, constant tours of bars and clubs are a must if you stand a chance of getting yourself known.
And we all know what they sell in bars and clubs… ALCOHOL!
Even when you do make it to selling out stadiums, exposure to alcohol doesn’t necessarily stop.
Instead of queuing up at the bar, you might have a stage runner bringing your JD and cokes or Vodka red bulls throughout your set.
Whatever your level of exposure, with alcohol, comes the danger of hangovers.
Arguably, this could be the most painful injury a musician may face…
I’m just kidding but I do take hangover recovery seriously and I’ve pulled together a list of remedies to help you to recover from your performance induced hangovers in the future.
Hangover cures – How to recover from too much alcohol
- Stay hydrated
This is a well-known hangover avoidance technique, but one that is rarely followed.
Contrary to popular belief a half pint of water ever 2-3 drinks will not kill your buzz but will kill your headache the next morning.
- Hair of the dog
This remedy is only suitable for those in control of their alcohol consumption, those with addictive personalities should avoid this one.
However, an alcoholic drink in the morning after a night on the booze can be backed by science as a temporary but effective cure.
After you drink alcohol, methanol is converted into formaldehyde which is toxic to the body and is responsible for some of the hangover symptoms.
Drinking more alcohol stops this conversion of methanol into formaldehyde and instead the methanol can be excreted from the body via urine before it converts and leaves you feeling horrible.
- Supplementing with B vitamins the night before
Alcohol is a diuretic and causes you to lose a lot of essential minerals through increased trips to the bathroom.
Taking B-vitamins the night before drinking can help mitigate the loss of b vitamins which plays a significant role in making you feel lousy the next day.
Each one of our Noosician supplements, Master, Perform and sleep is packed full of b vitamins as well as a long list of other vital nutrients.
Taking two capsules before a night out may help reduce your hangovers the next day.
You can thank us later!
- Eat a good breakfast
Sometimes eating a breakfast can induce thoughts of seeing it on the pavement 20 minutes later, however science confirms that powering though a healthy breakfast can really help your hangover.
Hangovers symptoms like nausea, fatigue and weakness are often associated with low blood sugar levels.
A good hearty breakfast can help you bring your blood sugar levels back to where they need to be and have you feeling fresh again.
Some common hangover breakfasts include:
- Bacon, egg and cheese bagels
- Peanut butter and banana oatmeal
- French toast with fruit and yoghurt
- Grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes
- Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup
- Breakfast ramen
- Fruit salad with a black coffee
Sore throat – How to combat damaged vocal cords
This advice is primarily to help singers overcome a sore throat so they can continue to perform at their best, but the advice can be followed by anyone who finds themselves in need of sore throat relief.
If you’re like me I always get way to into my backing vocal role on stage and often find myself with a hoarse voice the next day.
This has prompted me into looking at the best ways to mitigate this common problem that musicians face.
The advice comes in two main categories.
- Warming up your vocal cords
- Remedies to soothe and heal after damage to your voice
How to warm up your vocal cords
This is important whether you’re a singer, back-up singer or even an enthusiastic fan.
You would never see Usain bolt tearing around the track at full speed without warming up because he understands the dangers of injury.
It’s the same for singers, warming up your vocal cords will help mitigate the risk of injury.
A 5-step warm up guide for singers
- Begin with deep controlled breaths followed by some gentle humming
- Next start gentling going through your scales (humming this can be effective too if you prefer)
- Using you voice to make a squeaky door sound, from there use the ‘ee’ sound from the squeaky door to slide up and down your vocal range
- From here rehearse one of your gentler songs to get you ready to perform and warm up the vocal cords further
- When you’re ready try and hit a few of your high notes and low notes at full volume so it’s not the first time you’re doing this on stage.
It’s really important to know your limits. Start from a comfortable range and extend from there.
Don’t try to sing too high or too low until you are warmed up enough as this is when injuries are most likely to occur.
The ultimate sore throat remedy for singers
Ginger, turmeric, honey and lemon is a perfect remedy to sooth a sore throat and bring the swelling down.
Singers sore throat recipe:
- Peel and cut up 100g of turmeric and ginger root
- Boil for 15 to 20 minutes in 2 cups of water
- Put the liquid through a strainer to remove ginger and turmeric
- Add 1 tb of lemon
- Add 1tsp of good quality honey
- Stir well and leave to cool for 5 minutes before drinking
Summary of the common problem’s musicians face
Hopefully this in-depth look at the most common problems musicians face has given you some helpful advice on how to overcome these issues and at the very least some techniques to reduce your symptoms.
Often musicians have a live fast, die young mentality – especially when they first start out.
However, if you want to take a career in music seriously, taking simple steps like we have outlined in this article may help you to enjoy a long and successful career.
Even better than that, taking care of your health can enable you to practice better and more often, which will result in you performing better when you are in front of a live audience.
If you want to take a further look at any of our supplements for musicians that we have briefly introduced in this article, head over to our product page.
Noosician has Master, Perform and Sleep supplements specifically designed to help you become a better musician, back by scientific research and a CEO who truly understands the needs of musicians.