by Stephanie Hayman
In the music world, injuries may occur frequently as musicians often push beyond their limits. Inadequate rest, unhealthy eating habits, improper posture and mental and emotional strain compound this problem. With a musician’s hectic lifestyle, sufficient time is often not allowed for the body to heal. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory (especially steroids) medications are often used to dull the aches and pains. It’s a quick and easy approach, but only a temporary fix.
By medicinally covering up pain, stiffness, swelling, or aches, you may be masking a deeper problem. These symptoms are signals from your body telling you that something is weakened and out of balance. These warning signals are telling you to stop, rest, and heal.
In the short term, medication may enable you to return to your instrument, and carry on with your life, but in the long run, it may make the underlying problem worse. Regular use of medication can contribute to further injury, as well as cause you to have unwarranted side effects that could greatly impact performance, creativity, endurance, and vitality.
Acupuncture is an ancient, safe, natural and drug-free health care system that can provide immediate relief and long lasting benefits. It can help you return to your peak performance level by restoring the proper and continuous flow of vital energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi circulates within a series of pathways called Meridians. Meridians disperse Qi throughout your body, providing nourishment for every tissue, muscle and tendon. The circulating Qi supports, strengthens, and enlivens your entire body. It supplies you with the power to perform, sustain good health, and experience pain-free living.
As a musician, you may endure physical trauma, sprain, over-exertion, repetitive injury, and emotional strain. Because of this, singers and wind instrumentalists may experience a wide range of throat and respiratory ailments. String instrumentalists, horn players and percussionists can suffer from repetitive strain injuries, back and neck tension and pain, and tendinitis. Also, many performers experience decreased flexibility, diminished physical stamina, weakened immune systems and a lack of mental clarity.
All of these problems are caused by a disruption in the flow of Qi. Imagine a blockage in a hose that cuts off the valuable supply of water to a plant. The proper flow and quantity of water is required in order for the plant to reach its fullest potential. Over time, if the plant does not receive adequate nourishment, it will wither and waste away. Likewise, if the flow of Qi is disrupted, blocked, or out of balance, it will not circulate freely within your meridian pathways. When this occurs, it can lead to a variety of symptoms and signs including pain, swelling, stiffness, limited range of motion, loss of voice, fatigue, and insomnia. This can result in less-than optimal health that will most definitely hinder your performance.
By inserting fine sterile needles at specific locations, an acupuncturist is able to break up any blockages that have affected the smooth flow of Qi. Once this is done, Qi can travel freely throughout the body, promoting pain-free health, vitality and well being so that you can return to your peak performance.
Stephanie Hayman, L.Ac. practices musician’s health acupuncture at Steady Acupuncture, a multi-disciplinary acupuncture clinic located in Larchmont Village in Los Angeles. Find her on Yelp.
To the Point: FAQ About Acupuncture
Is Acupuncture Safe?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used.
What Should I Expect?
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people feel energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Treatment may take place over a period of several weeks or more.
During your first office visit, the practitioner may ask you at length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. The practitioner will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviors that may contribute to your condition. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments or medications you are taking and all medical conditions you have.
How Do I Find a Qualified Practitioner?
The Professional Musicians, Local 47 and Employers Health & Welfare Fund provides a Chiropractic and Acupuncture benefit through Landmark Healthcare. This benefit is at no additional cost to the participant and their enrolled dependents. (Please note: this benefit is available only to California residents.) For more information about this benefit visit www.pacfed.com/musicians.
(This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of AFM Local 47 Overture)