Safe Warm Up and Cool Down
It is important for dancers and musicians to safely warm up before a class or playing your instrument. If you do not sufficiently warm up before you begin your activity you can cause damage to your body. Warming up prepares the body for movement. It increases your body's temperature and, in turn decreases the tension in your muscles; therefore allowing you for longer and global movements. Equally important is cooling down after class/practice. Cooling down slows the body down, allowing the body to return to its resting temperature, it will also reduce muscle soreness as it allows the body to get rid of waste product such as lactic acid. Cooling down also prevents muscle soreness and stiffness. Both warming up properly and cooling down can help prevent injury.
An effective warm up should:
- Prepare you mentally and physically for the task.
- Permits freer movement of the muscles and joints.
- Increase heart rate and blood circulation.
- Improves effective muscle actions.
- Reduce the risk of injury.
- Increase coordination and proprioception
An effective cool down should:
- Gradually slow your movements to bring your breathing and heart rate down to your resting rate.
- Begin to cool the body temperature.
- Stretch the muscles to eliminate lactic acid build up.
- Begin to rest the mind, increase in activity releases adrenaline and endorphins, which can lead to restlessness.
Danger Signals of Muscle injury for a musician
Musicians can suffer from muscle injury due to many factors such as over use. This is where over time the muscles have been stretched to their limits. This can affect the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Repetitive action along with poor posture, excessive force and stress can bring on overuse injuries. Other factors can also cause muscle injuries. A musician's body size can impact on their ability to play an instrument, often affecting them to injury. A musician's conditioning can leave them prone to injury. Muscles that are tight and weak are at a greater risk than strong and flexible muscles. Muscle imbalance is also a factor to injuries for musicians. Often a musician's body is out of balance due to the particular demands of movements when playing their instrument. A musician's body can develop asymmetrically or unevenly; for example a violinist's left arm will move up and down the fingerboard but never left to right, where as their right arm will constantly move left to right but never up or down. This imbalance can lead the musician's body prone to injury. Misuse can also affect your body, poor posture or technique can bring on injury.
Pain is an obvious sign of injury but more subtle indicators are often sign of impending injury. Below are warning signs musicians should be aware of:
Signs of injury:
- Pain and/or burning sensation
- Fatigue or heaviness
- Impaired dexterity
- Tingling, numbness
- Involuntary movement, Impaired circulation
- Difficulty with normal daily activities