ENJOYING CHRISTMAS BREAK? The benefits of rest and relaxation

As Christmas fast approaches, many of you will be taking time away from the studio or work to take a well-earned break! But a lot of people don’t know enough about the multiple benefits that utilising proper rest and relaxation can bring.

‘Rest’ is anything that gives you a break and can be either physical or mental. There are multiple benefits for everyone and especially for performing artists. This is partly a result of the many physiological changes that can occur when utilising rest and relaxation successfully. These changes can include

  • reduced blood pressure
  • reduced muscle tension
  • reduced sensitivity to pain
  • improved immunity
  • increased circulation
  • slowed breathing rate

Another key benefit of rest and relaxation is that it can reduce the effects of stress. Stress can cause disruption to daily life in many forms including sleep and digestion, as well as increasing aches and pains and the likelihood of getting ill (coughs, colds etc.). Taking time out to rest and relax can help to tackle stress and keep our bodies and minds healthy.

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Image: Trinity Laban matwork class; JK photography 

 

In what other ways can it benefit me as a performing artist?                       The benefits of rest and relaxation can include both physiological and behavioural advantages which can be important for performing artists. Studies have reported that relaxation can reduce mood fluctuations and increase concentration. Also, rest is key for muscle regeneration. This means that in order to see progression in physical training, one must rest or the muscles will not be able to regenerate and you will see no improvements. This is important for performing artists to keep in mind as there is often a tendency to want to train all the time and take little rest in order to improve. However, in actual fact this can inhibit physical progression and could increase the risk of injury. Research has shown that performers, especially dancers, often work through fatigue and that overuse is one of the most common causes of injuries among dancers.

Not obtaining enough rest can also increase the likelihood of overtraining and can even lead to burnout. This is a complex condition and can be acute or chronic, and is the result of a volume of activity/exercise that exceeds the performer’s capabilities. Overtraining and burnout can both increases the risk of injury also, as the body can be more susceptible to muscle damage, infections, allergies and will take longer to heal from even minor scratches. Research has also shown that taking time to review a piece of music or choreography mentally as well as physically, can be much more beneficial than just physically rehearsing alone, which could be a good way to tackle overtraining among performers.

How can I rest and relax properly?                                                                   It is ideal if you can set aside a certain amount of time each day or week to just rest and relax . This can be anything that gives your mind or body a break and can range from just having an early night or a weekend off, to participating yoga classes or doing breathing exercises. Research suggests that constructive/active rest can also be beneficial, which simply requires you to lie in a resting state and focus your mind on a particular task.

So enjoy taking some time out over Christmas to rest and relax and begin the New Year with a great start! #dancersneedrest

 

 Musicians, don’t cramp your style!

In the last 20 years musicians’ medicine has become increasingly popular. But are musicians aware of the prevalence of injury and how best to treat them?

An article published under The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) couldn’t have said it better…

‘Musicians should think of themselves as athletes.’

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The physical and psychological demands that come hand in hand with being a musician, are no different to that of a dancer or perhaps even a rugby player?! It is essential that Musicians are attentive to their physical needs, limitations, and work, to condition their bodies accordingly.

The repetitive nature of a musicians’ repertoire, lengthy rehearsals and performances, tests posture and muscle strength, so it probably comes as no surprise that the vast majority of injuries sustained include repetitive strain, lower back pain and Tendonitis, to name but a few. However a study of 1046 musicians conducted by BAPAM in 2004, suggested 52% of injuries recorded were due to performance-related issues, such as overwork and incorrect practice or technique when playing their instruments.

Having said this an injury or trauma can be sustained by simply completing a harmless day to day activity, therefore it is essential that the treatment process is managed with the musician’s instrument and the demands of the lifestyle at the focal point. When assessing and treating a musician, a holistic ‘whole body’ approach is paramount- regardless of the type of treatment, the plan should be tailored to the individual artist!

All musicians face limitations, the physical dimensions of an instrument requires the musician to make adjustments to the body, muscles and tendons can be put under strain or ‘unusual’ positions during this modification. To maintain a high performance level, musicians may need to take preventive action or seek treatment that can help strengthen essential core muscles or correct muscle imbalances, thus keeping those dreaded repetitive strain injuries at bay!

Reduce the risk of time away from your passion…

PHYSIOTHERAPHY works towards improving your physical performance and reducing the risk of further injury by developing a biomechanical understanding of how you play. Forms of treatment can range from exercise referral, postural analysis (taking your instrument into consideration), manual mobilisations, dry needling and taping where necessary. These techniques collaborate to address the factors mentioned above, focusing on building strength to support and stabilise muscle imbalances and weaknesses.

ACUPUNCTURE is the balance of energetics of the mind and body. Chinese medicine techniques boost the uptake of oxygen and dissemination to our muscles, thus minimising those pesky cramps. Working to relieve tension, throughout the body it is a saving grace for shoulder and back pain. Did I mention its holistic approach to the body, treating headaches, anxiety and insomnia?

PILATES is a great tool for musicians. A typical Pilates class includes exercises to build or ‘restore’ endurance, flexibility, trunk and pelvic stability, muscle balance, strength, and efficient breathing patterns. Every one of these can help a musician to play a longer repertoire with less fatigue.

SPORTS MASSAGE works to relieve muscle tension as well as improve circulation, flexibility and posture. Whether it be through soft tissue release, trigger point, muscle energy or general massage techniques, this form of treatment can help bring more awareness to the body and decrease pain. Sound good? It can also tackle anxiety and restlessness pre or post performance, reduce stress and improve our overall wellbeing.

Prevention is better than cure!

It is handy to know what treatments are appropriate for musicians and their specific needs but as always remember the aforementioned!! The key to any injury is prevention – intense practice (although sometimes unavoidable) should be limited and performed in moderation.

Try taking regular breaks and work towards conditioning and maintaining a strong body by introducing warm ups and cool downs to your practice. If possible gradually increase the intensity and duration of your practice and restrict yourself to reasonable playing times- we know this may be a tricky one!

For any other information regarding the best treatment for YOU and what we offer at TL Health please contact us on  health@trinitylaban.ac.uk or 0208 3059479/0208 3059482.

Remember a clear and open communication between health care professionals, teachers and most importantly Performers will aid in effective Injury Treatment and in the long haul- PREVENTION!

 

Jessica Coleman

Graduate Intern for Health & Dance Science.

BA (Hons) Dance and Professional Practice, MSc Dance Science.

 

Happy New Year, Healthful Hints for 2017!

Here we are again, the start of another brand new year, time for turning over a new leaf, resolutions and planning the year ahead, bring on 2017!

At Trinity Laban Health we want to make sure performing artists are supported in their training and professional careers, and what better time for us to give you a few hints and tips to help you get off to good start this new year.

Supplementary Training, make it more than a resolution…

Supplementary training can benefit you as a performing artist and help to enhance your performance in a variety of ways. Whether you are new to training outside of your performance art, or whether you are getting back into training after a well-earned Christmas break, you should consider asking yourself which areas of your performance you would like to improve or support, for example do you want to boost your cardiovascular fitness to support playing a wind instrument? Or perhaps you want to work on lower limb endurance ahead of an upcoming dance performance. Whatever your new year goals may be, we have facilities which could help you towards achieving them.

As a student of Trinity Laban you would have access to our Conditioning Studio and FREE classes such as Yoga, Pilates and Strength & Conditioning, which could help support your training and help you stick to those supplementary training resolutions.

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Look after your performing body…

Being a performing artist can mean that there are certain demands placed upon your body which may increase risk of injury. At Trinity Laban Health we have a variety of treatments which can not only help you if you do become injured, but can also aid in the prevention of injury. Tell me more I hear you say! So what treatments do we have to offer? Well firstly, all of our therapists/practitioners share a particular interest in performing artists’ health. They are highly skilled and experienced when it comes to working with those in the field of dance, music and musical theatre. Our treatments include Physiotherapy, Sports massage, Acupuncture, Acupressure massage, Craniosacral, Feldenkrais, Reflexology (look out for future blog posts for a more in depth discussion of the therapies and practitioners). There is a treatment to suit all aches, niggles and pains and treatments for example, Sports massage can be a good way to help prevent injury.

Along with all of your other 2017 resolutions we also hope you plan to look after your overall well-being by ensuring you get enough rest and sleep – giving your body time to unwind and relax can really go a long way to help make sure you are optimising your performance. Nutrition, including hydration is also incredibly important, once a term here at Trinity Laban Health we have Nutritionist Jasmine Challis, who runs a clinic and specialises in performing artists’ diets. Ensuring your food and fluid intake is supporting your activity level is essential to maintain a healthy you!

If you would like to know any more about our Conditioning studio, treatments or for any other queries please contact the health department via the Trinity Laban website www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/health or email us health@trinitylaban.ac.uk . We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!

Felicity Beach

Graduate Intern Health

Top Tips for the Touring Musician

Musicians’ hands are vital to their musical performance. Rapid, complex and coordinated movements are required and they frequently have to play in less than ideal postures and environments; usually without the support of a medical team and with poor facilities. Touring increases the hours of playing with reduced sleep. Noise, alcohol levels and pressure can be high. In summary, musicians as well as singers and other performing artists often have to perform to the limit of their abilities physically and emotionally. As a result, the risk of acquiring injuries that can lead to difficulties or an inability to play or sing can increase. Continue reading