A playing-related injury is not the same as a disease or sickness. Playing involves use of habitual movements. When those habitual movements are harmful, they cause misuse of the body, often leading to musculoskeletal, nerve and neurological disorders. These movements are learned behaviors and can therefore be replaced, allowing us to play another way, pain free, with ease and comfort.
There are three basic categories of playing-related injuries:
Pain/discomfort that arise in a certain playing situation or passage. In other words, it is specific to the situation such as sitting on the left or right in orchestra, or certain demands in the music, such as repeated passages on the G/C string or sustained ff tremolo.
Pain/discomfort that is in the playing generally, regardless of repertoire and situation.
Pain/discomfort that is pervasive, where the person experiences pain all the time in daily activities and in multiple parts of the body, sometimes all over the body. These injuries can be debilitating to the extreme. They may have started with the playing or with an event outside the playing.
Changing a habit means re-organizing the body, re-learning how we use the body, simply put - training the body to work another way. This is a process not usually a quick fix. It probably took many years for the pain to manifest itself so it does follow that it takes some time to re-organize the brain and body to function a different way. However, when the solution is in-line with how the body and brain function in normal activity, this process can be remarkably fast. In general, players are trained to make changes very rapidly and are therefore adept at understanding and making physical changes in their playing, so the process is often fast. Once undertaken, most people find the process is stimulating and exciting to engage in.
There are four stages to solving these injuries. All involve gaining physical tools and knowledge while moving the brain. This means changing a person’s concept of how something works and then locating the specific physical movements involved. The four stages are:
Getting the player out of pain through an understanding of the correct physical movements and what those movements feel like in the body in the basic technique.
Ensuring that this knowledge and technique can be applied to the repertoire and meet the specific demands of the music, solving problem passages and situations.
Ensuring that the new technique is integrated for the player so that it can be maintained in the work place, such as during rehearsals or while teaching.
Ensuring that the playing is integrated to the point of stability in stressful situations such as performances.