I’ve got some big news here at Resonance Wellness…
I’m excited to announce that I will be conducting a research study examining the effects of a physical warm-up on injury occurrence in musicians. More specifically, I’ll be looking at the role of a dynamic stretching warm-up in reducing pain and injury in conservatory students. I will be completing this study at the Shenandoah University conservatory in Winchester, Virginia during the 2017-2018 academic year…I can’t wait to get started!
So, what exactly is dynamic stretching, and why would I want to use it in a warm-up? Dynamic stretching refers to stretching through motion; it sits in contrast to static stretching in which we manually stretch our soft tissue and joints. For example, if you are going out for a run, a dynamic stretching warm-up might involve doing a set of walking lunges or high kicks, while a passive stretching warm-up might using a strap or stretcher to passively stretch your calf muscles, or manually bringing your knees to your chest.
In the field of sports medicine, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that supports use of a dynamic stretching warm-up prior to engaging in athletic activity. By consciously activating the muscles that will later be used during athletic performance, dynamic stretching has been shown to improve range of motion/flexibility, body awareness, and muscle strength to enhance performance and reduce the likelihood of injury. In contrast, we know that static stretching actually decreases muscle strength and should be saved for after engaging in athletic activity.
Being both a musician and a runner, I know that musicians are a lot like athletes: playing music requires intense focus and the ability to repetitively execute precise motions with great accuracy. As such, the purpose of my study is to apply the concept of a dynamic stretching warm-up that is well-supported by current literature and accepted by athletes and the sports medicine community to musicians and performing arts medicine. Stay tuned for the results…
I’ve had the dream of creating a musicians’ wellness promotion and injury management program—a holistic therapeutic resource center of sorts—for several years now. I’ve long envisioned creating an atmosphere where it is not only okay, but more importantly encouraged, to openly talk about injury management and prevention as it relates to music performance. A program that strives to find the best ergonomic “fit” between the performer and their instrument…and an environment where musicians get the individualized attention and care they need and deserve. Resonance Wellness is the manifestation of this dream.
So…why “resonance”? Strictly speaking, resonance refers to the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating or the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object*. On a metaphorical level, I think resonance symbolizes the epitome of a synergistic relationship between the performer and their instrument. When there is resonance between the musician and their instrument—unhindered by unnecessary stress, tension, or pain—there is a certain ease of playing that allows the player’s spirit and passion to really shine through. This harmony between musician and instrument—working in synchrony—in turn yields resonance in playing.
There’s something powerful, something truly moving and deeply stirring about resonance of sound and the beauty of music. At Resonance Wellness, I hope to provide a meaningful resource for musicians and educators alike to keep the creation of that music as harmonious as possible.
*The Oxford Dictionary
Allison Shearer, mot, otr/l, cht
Allison is a flutist, occupational therapist/certified hand therapist, and founder of Resonance Wellness. When she's not treating--or playing--you can usually find Allison out for a run, sitting by the river with her dog, Lacey, or curled up with a cup of tea, a good book, and her cat, Willow.