1.1. Motivation


   I have been playing drums since I was 12 years old. I decided late in life to become a professional percussionist and with this thesis I will be finishing my master’s studies. I started music university when I was 25 years old and have always been both the oldest and the one furthest behind in my studies. This increased my work ethic in the practice room in order to overcome my deficiencies. However, with too much practice the risk of performance injuries increases.

   During my playing career, I have dealt with several hand injuries which in the past five year have forced me to take almost twelve months off from playing. My injuries have included tendonitis of the wrist, cubital tunnel syndrome, ganglion cyst and general muscle tension. My original injury was due to overuse which led to a repetitive strain injury (RSI). This resulted in tendonitis of the wrist related to improper playing technique. The injury was quite severe and led to immobalization of the wrist for two weeks. The recovery was slow and unfortunately managed improperly.

   To this day I am still dealing with the aftermath of that injury. In the years that followed, I developed a ganglion on the same hand which together with my acute tendonitis led to further complications. Later, I developed a golfer's elbow (lateral epicondylitis) both on my right and left elbow during the preparation of my bachelor recital.

   During all of this, I felt that while everyone was very understanding of the fat that my playing and practice time had to be limited, no one had clear information how to help my recovery. During my recovery period many people have offered their advice which has sometimes useful but mostly confusing. Having to deal with an injury is difficult enough, one should not have to find their own way with diagnosis and recovery.

   My personal experience has motivated me to research performance related injuries.

1.2. Goal


   The goal of this research project is to explore the causes and risk of injury and find ways to improve the long-term health of percussionists. Playing percussion is a very physical activity and includes many instruments one has to be able to master. There are many different playing techniques for different instruments which is one of the reason percussionists are more susceptible to injuries.

   While I will not intend to break down percussion techniques in this paper, we will explore how playing the most common percussion instruments requires different muscles and what that means for our health. It is important for musicians to understand the way their bodies work, and which muscles do what. Injuries are too common and can be avoided by playing almost or completely tension free.

1.4. Medical professionals


   Doctor Þórarinn Ingólfsson is a general physician who has been practicing medicine for 29 years. He is the manager of two public clinics in Reykjavík, Iceland and was a primary physician in Norway for a number of years. Doctor Ingólfsson's clinics receives 36.000 visits a month and he has around 2000 patients in his primary care.


   Katarina Porander is a physical therapist specialising in musicians care and is based in Helsinki, Finland. She has been working in the field for over 30 years and teaches classes to musicians at all levels. Katarina regularly works with the professional orchestras in Finland and her clients include musicians from the professional orchestras as well as students from the Sibelius Academy.


1.3. Method


   In collecting data for this research, six percussionists who have dealt with an injury were interviewed. The criteria put forward was that their injury made them unable to practice and that they had sought some medical help. In the interviews I focused on the correspondents story, their studying, playing background, their practice background and what they believed were the factors that led to their injuries. The information gathered from these interviews was brought to both a primary physician and a physical therapist in order to determine what could be learned from their cases.

   Taking the information from the interviews and applying modern sports science, we can discern what recovery techniques are relevant to the subjects cases in order to determine efficient recovery strategies.

When all of this information has been collected we should come out better prepared dealing with our bodies both when we are healthy and when we are injured.