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Musculoskeletal Disorders and Asymmetric Playing Postures of the Upper Extremity and Back in Music Teachers: A Pilot Study

Cecilia Wahlström Edling, Anncristine Fjellman-Wiklund
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 24 Number 3: Page 113 (September 2009)

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Abstract: To play a musical instrument, such as the violin or flute, requires controlled, adequate movements performed by the arm, hand, and fingers in an asymmetric playing posture. The movements are monotonous and often of long duration, involving static and repetitive muscle work of the upper extremity and neck-shoulder muscles. This situation may lead to an increased risk of contracting musculoskeletal problems. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the relationship between physical workload, defined as playing posture and playing time per week, and musculoskeletal disorders in music teachers. A questionnaire was distributed, with items based on work-related musculoskeletal disorders and physical working conditions. The study population consisted of music teachers employed at a Swedish municipal music school. Out of 61 music teachers, 47 (77%) agreed to participate, including 28 women and 19 men. The study group was divided into two groups depending on if they had an asymmetric or symmetric upper extremity/back playing position. Of the total participants, 77% reported musculoskeletal disorders during the preceding 12 months. Female teachers reported significantly more symptoms in the neck, shoulders, and upper back than male teachers. Music teachers with an asymmetric playing posture had significantly more musculoskeletal disorders than music teachers with a symmetric playing posture. This study demonstrates that an asymmetric playing position may affect the amount of musculoskeletal disorders in the upper extremity and back.

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