I am proud to introduce our readers to Dr. Terry Zachary. Dr. Zachary is the Rock House Method in house medical consultant on health and fitness for our hands. As musicians, we need to be educated about how to care for our instruments. Dr. Zachary is going to be educating us on taking care of the most important part of our instrument ….. our hands.
Dr. Zachary is the creator of Hand Master Plus. The Hand Master Plus is a complete system designed for the health of your hands. Visit the hand Master Plus web site HERE. Then check out the special pricing of The Hand Master Plus bundled with John McCarthys Hands of Steel Workout DVD for Guitarist HERE.
Dr. Zachary will be giving weekly advice over the month about how to take care of your hands. The advice and knowledge is priceless. Enjoy.
Hand, Wrist & Elbow Fitness & Injury Prevention for Musicians:
By Dr. Terry Zachary
Part I: Introduction
Welcome to the Hands of Steel blog series on hand, wrist & elbow fitness & injury prevention for musicians. My name is Dr. Terry Zachary and—having studied musician hand, wrist & elbow fitness for over 5 years now—I am very excited to partner with mega-educator John McCarthy & the folks at Rock House Method. We are all finally starting to see musicians take control of their fitness properly. You are in goods hands (literally)!
From the musician’s point of view, there is no question that hand, wrist & elbow fitness is completely necessary—and is completely misunderstood by nearly all. This large oversight in musical fitness can be super-costly, the currency of pay being pain and time away from your instrument.
From the health care point of view, I can tell you that therapists are seeing the same injuries in musicians that they saw 10-15 years ago. No change—Nada. And the crazy thing is that most of these injuries are completely preventable.
—Extensor tendonitis—carpal tunnel syndrome—Tennis elbow—Golfer’s elbow—RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury)—don’t worry—by the end of this blog these crazy sounding names will be a cake-walk for you to understand.
Don’t be too concerned about the names of each of these conditions; instead, understand their cause. Understand why they occur. You’ll know more than many health care professionals! You’ll be an expert—and a better musician!
—Want to prepare your body for big-time musical performance potential? —Want to play for a lifetime? You’re in the right place! Most of the information in this 4-part blog will be brand new to you—and to most musicians. Thanks to Rock House Method, the face of musical fitness is changing quickly—by necessity!
Introduction to Hand Muscle Imbalance
Historically, musicians have appeared unaware that playing an instrument is indeed a physical activity. No different than gymnastics or rock-climbing or working in a production line, musicians are ‘repetitive grippers,’ constantly gripping and flexing their fingers, thumbs and wrists. Over time, this leads to imbalance. Let me explain why.
Your hand muscles are designed such that 9 muscles close your hand. These 9 muscles are generally located along the front of your hand, wrist & forearm.
Opposingly, you have 9 muscles that open your hand. These muscles are located generally along the back of the hand, wrist and forearm.
Whenever we grip as we play a musical instrument, we repetitively use our hand closing muscles. Learning, practicing, jamming and performing cause the 9 hand closing muscles to become dominate (imbalanced) compared to the 9 opening muscles. Muscle imbalance is created. Pretty simple.
Keep in mind that the hand muscles (both opening and closing) attach at the front and back of the fingers, thumbs, hands, wrists, forearms and elbow. When imbalance occurs, many areas of the arm are affected. Do you see how a simple hand muscle imbalance causes elbow, wrist, finger and thumb problems? Do you see why hand muscle balance is essential?
Won’t happen to you? —Don’t bet on it. We interviewed 100 musicians at the 2008 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA and found that 42 had experienced (or are experiencing) a hand, wrist, forearm or elbow injury at some time in their musical career. 12 of those 42 had been debilitated to the point of not being able to play.
Follow this four-series blog to learn all about this important area of your musical body; an area that represents the #1 most common musical injury. If a health and performance lesson doesn’t sound exciting to you, ask a musician whose been hindered by one of these injuries. You’re mind will change quickly!
See you next week, when we discuss carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in musicians!
Why do musicians get carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?
Why do musicians get extensor tendonitis and elbow injuries?
How to strengthen and balance all 18 of your hand muscles—properly!