Categorized | Health & Wellness

Wellness for Musicians: Ride Your Body Like a Bike

Article By: John Bondlow, Health Specialist at WE Integration

Chain link.  It snaps.  You get it fixed; keep biking.  You peddle hard.  Then, it snaps again.  “I can’t believe it!  The same exact spot! “

The story is not possible.  How could you know that it snapped in exactly the same spot?  If it’s your body, you can be sure of it.  One health practitioner told me once years ago, “stress goes to the area of weakest link.”  The truth is, if you go to the bike mechanic, he’ll replace the entire chain.  Because, in fact, it will break at the same place over and over again.

Our bodies are very much like a bicycle’s mechanics.  If you shift hard when you peddle, keeping after that shifter, chances are good that soon you will need to get a new shifter.  Simple mechanics.  However, if you are not peddling forcefully when you shift while going up that strenuous uphill, miraculously, there is less stress on the shifter.  And, wow, the bike is easier to peddle, too?  Not only that, there is less of a likelihood that your chain will snap in the same place.

One of the chain break-like points in our bodies is at the base of the neck, where our neck meets the shoulders.  Twisting and turning, having bags upon it, oh – and did I forget to mention – simply leaning forward at your desk or performing with your instrument?  Yes, jutting that neck out extremely or just ever so slightly to do what you want to do: computer time, practice or performance time, creates stress at this junction.  And, over time, this area begins to feel just exactly like that chain link that’s about to snap.  You know the area I’m talking about, I don’t have to point to it.  It’s that same place, every time.

Specifically, the vertebraes in this area are where the neck vertebrae, the cervical vertebrae, meet the upper torso thoracic vertebrae.  Seven cervical, twelve thoracic. C 1-7, T 1-12.  And the junction C7 to T1 is where are neck meets our shoulders.  This is that wicked chain link of an area that is often ready to snap.  Rotation, bending, jutting forward, placing stress upon it…I hate to repeat myself, but this area is all about repetition.  What you do to it over and over again, every day, it’s up to you.

There are many muscles surrounding this neck-shoulder junction, C7, T-12.  Receiving bodywork to target restrictions in this area can help keep your chain link from feeling too close to snapping.  Before riding yourself to the bone uphill, maintain muscular stress to this junction by receiving Trigger Point Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage, or other Clinical bodywork methods to keep symptoms from increasing.

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