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Energy Expenditure in Brass and Woodwind Instrumentalists: The Effect of Body Posture

Vera A.E. Baadjou, Marjon D.F. van Eijsden-Besseling, Ans L.W. Samama-Polak, Rob J.E.M. Smeets, Valéria Lima Passos, Klaas R. Westerterp
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 26 Number 4: Page 218 (December 2011)

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Abstract: Body posture appears to influence fatigue and musculoskeletal complaints in musicians. Our aim was to determine energy expenditure and to investigate whether energy expenditure is affected by body posture in brass and woodwind instrumentalists. Methods: Eighteen musicians (10 women, 8 men; 6 brass, 12 woodwinds), with a mean age of 39 ± 14 years and mean body mass index of 23.8 ± 4.9 kg/m2, played their instruments for 30 minutes twice: once in nonoptimized body posture (posture A), and once in a posture according to the postural exercise therapy method Mensendieck (posture B). Patients were randomized to the order of postures in a crossover design AB/BA. Playing sessions were preceded and followed by 60 minutes of rest. Energy expenditure was measured in a respiration chamber with indirect calorimetry. Basal metabolic rate was measured with a ventilated hood. Results: Mean metabolic equivalents (MET) for playing a wind instrument in the sitting position in a nonoptimized posture and posture according postural exercise therapy were 1.69 (SD 0.18) and 1.80 (SD 0.22), respectively. Percent change between resting metabolic rate and total energy expenditure while playing was 32% (95% CI 25¿39%) in posture B and 23% (95% CI 17¿30%) in posture A (p = 0.021). Conclusion: Average physical activity while playing a wind instrument approximates 1.8 MET. Our data show an association between energy expenditure and body posture while playing a brass or woodwind instrument: playing a musical instrument in a posture according to postural exercise therapy leads to higher energy expenditure as compared to a nonoptimized body posture. These results suggest that fatigue and the general feeling of lack of energy after playing a musical instrument are not related to actual higher energy expenditure.

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