Alternative Treatments

Bruser, Madeline. The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart. New York: Bell Tower, 1997.

An alternative meditation outlook on practicing with the goal of eliminating tension, aches, pains, and injuries induced by forced playing. Bruser’s overriding theory is that when a musician loosens up, they are able to free themselves from physical and emotional tension. Part two presents ten steps of the art of practicing divided into four groups: preparatory steps, physical techniques, physiological techniques, and sensory and intellectual techniques.

Dawson, WJ. “Ask the Doctor: Treatment Options for Medical Problems” The Double Reed 28, no. 1 (2005): 111-13; 28, no.2 (2005):145-47.

Published in two parts with the intent to help instrumentalists better navigate health care options. Part one includes integrative or alternative medicine, chiropractic care, homeopathy and dietary therapy. The second part includes physical, massage and topical therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, as well as body awareness methods such as Alexander technique, Feldenkrais technique, and yoga.

Kochan, Andrew. “Treating the Pain of Playing Musical Instruments.” The Double Reed 27, no. 1 (2004): 74.

Andrew Kochan, M.D. recommends a lesser known treatment option for joint and tendon strain from repetitive movements in musicians called prolotherapy. He includes information on the functionality of a body’s response to tissue injury, how prolotherapy is executed and its origin, and theory on its effectiveness.

Mitchell, Teresa Lynn. “Alternative Methods of Resolving Hand and Wrist Pain in Woodwind Players.” PhD diss., University of Miami, 2003.

Wrist and hand injuries are discussed as well as most common techniques for treatment but the majority of the work is devoted to alternative methods of pain resolution. Included is research on chiropractic, osteopathy, western massage, shiatsu, acupressure, lomilomi, acupuncture, yoga, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Qigong and Tai Qi, pilates, meditation, biofeedback and herbs and medicines.

Nagel, Julie Jaffee. “Injury and Pain in Performing Musicians: A Psychodynamic Analysis.” Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 62 (Winter 1998): 83-95.

Nagel discusses the correlation of mind and body in injury. She touches on repetitive stress injury, disuse atrophy and their possible connection to mental health. Posed is the idea that a musician can ‘hold on’ to the idea that they need to experience pain and the resulting physical manifestation of damaging emotions.

Navarte, Danik Arana, and Jaume Rosset-Llobet. “Safety of Subcutaneous Microinjections (Mesotherapy) in Musicians.” Medical Problems of Performing Artists 26 (June 2011): 79-83.

Navarte and Rosset-Llobet performed a study on 67 patients to test the safety, pain-level, and effectiveness of mesotherapy needles versus normal needles on musicians as pain treatment. The goal of microinjections was to produce local effects in deep tissues close to the treated area, with less systemic effects and a longer duration than other possible treatments and with less pain than a normal needle. Muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories and vasodilators were used. Maladies treated were muscular contraction (cervical, dorsal or lumbar), myalgia in the forearms, neuritis of the nerve at the elbow, de Quervain’s, cyst on the wrist, and tendinitis.

Pirtle, Kathryne, and Sally Fallon. Performance without Pain: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Program for Healing Pain, Inflammation and Chronic Ailments in Musicians, Athletes, Dancers… and Everyone Else.” Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc., 2006.

Pirtle shares her personal experience with insufficient results with standard muscluloskeletal repairs, instead finding success through nutritional treatment with the help of Fallon. By eliminating food allergies, musicians can clear pain and inflammation, improve their immune system, and clear chronic illness and digestive problems. Food to avoid is detailed and nutritional advice and plans are given.

Pirtle, Kathryne, and John Turner. “Medical Issues: Chronic Embouchure Weakness- Another Approach to Examine.” The Horn Call 39 (February 2009): 83-86.

Pirtle and Turner take a unique approach to muscle weakness and health of musicians by examining digestive health and food intolerance and the physical effects on a body due to chronic illness and inflammation. A large portion is written about Pirtle’s personal experience with ill health, diagnosis and healing process. Focuses on the nutrition and dietary needs of a healthy body for peak performance.

Winding, Eleanor. Yoga for Musicians and Other Special People. Sherman Oaks, California: Alfred Publishing Co., 1982.

The author applies her knowledge of yoga to musician’s health as a means of releasing mental and physical strain. A large variety of poses and tutorials are given, including breathing exercises, stretches, and strengthening poses. Pp. 51 recommends a few poses to aid in breathing.