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Bass Player Health

The Doctor Is In – The Upright Bassist by Dr Randall Kertz

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Hello all, it’s been a while- thanks for hanging in there.

I’d like to go over some material I presented recently in a pair of lectures for the International Society of Bassists biannual convention in San Francisco. If you haven’t had the chance to go to one, check out the next convention in Rochester, New York in 2013.

Although most of this material applies to upright in particular, it can also be easily extrapolated to include electric.  Let’s dive in:

Before playing- assess your posture. Are your shoulders relaxed, are your feet planted firmly on the ground, evenly balanced, not shifting your weight on one side or the other? Is the bass evenly balanced? The way you start is the way you will finish, and leaning on one side or the other makes the low back muscles tighten up, and will become learned behavior and will affect the body all the time, as it now thinks this is correct and the way it is supposed to be.

Always warm up before playing- simple stretches such as shoulder shrugs, lifting your shoulders up and then dropping them down again, while rotating them in a circular motion forward and backward, shaking out your wrists and rotating them in a circular manner first one way and then the other, and remembering to remain loose are all necessary to avoid excessive muscle tightness which can start when you first begin playing if you aren’t sufficiently relaxed. With these as with any stretches or warm ups, if it is uncomfortable make sure you are doing it correctly, and if it is still uncomfortable discontinue.

Especially for the upright bassist, constant shoulder elevation with the left arm out and up makes one prone to rotator cuff problems and tendonitis.

When dealing with younger bassists who are just getting started in their careers and will be going for scholarships and placements, the concepts of good posture and not overdoing it, i.e. playing through pain, must be stressed. These players will be practicing more, and it will likely be drummed into their head through teachers, friends, and mostly well meaning individuals to keep pushing ahead, and they will equate more practice and playing with progress and betterment and will likely not pay attention to how their bodies are feeling. Bad habits learned now will develop into lifelong problems. They may show up now or in 10 years, but they will show up and by then it may be too late.

Many upright bassists will lean to one side or the other. I have also seen technique books in which they instruct the player to stand with the side of the bass leaning against the player, thereby ensuring that they will lean to one side. This sets up the player for future low back problems, as leaning to one side makes these muscles tighten up, and again, becomes a learned behavior and a chronic problem. Weight should be distributed evenly on both sides, with the feet planted firmly and the bass leaning back against the body at an angle. This will not only help the low back but the shoulders as the arms will not have to strain to reach the fingerboard. With the bass leaning against the body on its side, reaching around to play the e string will result in a bad wrist angle.

Some new information, mostly reminders, hope your summers are going well and see you next time-

Randy

Dr. Randall Kertz is the author or The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health – Volumes One & Two. Click here to get your copies today!

Dr Randy Kertz - bassist Guide to Injury Management

Bass Player Health

Do You Have Trigger Finger? with Dr. Randy Kertz

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Dr Randal Kertz - Bass Player Health - Oct 2022

Do You Have Trigger Finger?

In this month’s video, we will cover trigger finger and possible treatments.

Dr. Randall Kertz is the author or The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health – Volumes One & Two. Click here to get your copies today!

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Bass Player Health

Play Every Note with Dr. Randy Kertz

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Dr Randal Kertz - Bass Player Health - Oct 2022

Play Every Note…

In this month’s video, we will cover the best approach to practice on your bass fretboard.

Please make sure to cast your Vote for Dr. Kertz >>> CLICK HERE
Category: Audio Education Technology
Title: Injury Prevention & Management for Musicians – The Pianist’s Guide

Dr. Randall Kertz is the author or The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health – Volumes One & Two. Click here to get your copies today!

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Bass Player Health

Believe the Hype… Internet Wisdom, with Dr. Randy Kertz

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Dr Randal Kertz - Bass Player Health - Oct 2022

Believe the Hype… Internet Wisdom…

In this month’s video, we will shed some light on Internet wisdom and how to proceed.

Dr. Randall Kertz is the author or The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health – Volumes One & Two. Click here to get your copies today!

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Bass Player Health

Most Injuries Are Self-inflicted… A look Into the Mirror of Bass Player’s Health

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Anna Achimowicz

When you want to professionally approach your body for playing bass, you will be required to look into the mirror of how you treat yourself… every day.

‘Before you heal someone, ask him if he’s willing to give up the things that make him sick.’- HIPPOCRATES

As artists we often think pain and strain, to some extent, is the measure of our coolness, our rebellion on stage, a measure of growth, the originality and uniqueness of how much your body can withstand without sleeping, hydrating, changing our stage costume that was never comfortable to begin with, etc. However, if we go down that road to outsmart our health, competing band or cooler player than you, it can be a short path very quickly.

Growth and development and pushing ones boundaries, especially on stage, is often simply self-inflicted harm and mistreating the body’s early signals, that something is not serving us. That first sensation of discomfort, burning, tingling, that subjective “somethings off” but, never mind, that subtle moment, we’ve crossed a threshold, because we didn’t listen.

How many times did you sit in a session until your leg went numb? How many hours in an evening did you hold on, not having a single sip of water, cause you ‘have to’ drink a toast with every fan you meet after the show? How many times your headpiece pierced into your scull inflicting an initially dull headache that would after many hours cut circulation, press against sensitive sutures of your scull until it inflicts blurry vision, impaired hearing, dizziness or nausea? How hard did you head-bang, feeling the next day you probably sustained a mild concussion?

These are just some extreme examples of what musicians and bass playing performers put themselves through. For the crowds, for the applause, for recognition or fame. Sacrificing their health, their body and wellbeing. That only accumulates, in our cellular memory, yet cannot continue to regenerate, properly heal and reconstruct.

Most of the time, pain, discomfort or dysbalance the body projects onto you, is your nerve system communicating with you, “Your habits are harming me and my health. I need rest, the position you’re playing in is causing wear and tear, the free stage dives without any warm up or preparation are going to fracture a bone or inflict a decent strain of muscles or ligaments. If you don’t properly hydrate, and drink alcohol instead it’s going to develop and inflammatory state or an infection and heal much much slower than you could”.

Yes, that is you, the touring musician overlooked, ignored, brushed off, numbed with a painkiller or worse, glued with superglue and scotch tape because there is no time for that being on tour, performing, recording, writing under the pressure of a label, management, or the very first fans or followers of a newly established project.

Most of injuries and heath problems, are self-inflicted.

Most are functional and come from self-sabotaging habits that neglect your health, look for quick fixes on the go temporary solution hacks, pain-killers, walk-in massages or dangerous chiropractic manipulation manouvres, 3 hour-long nights with minimum sleep, followed with lots of coffee or energy drinks, open wounded blisters closed with industrial glue. Should I go on with examples? You know who you are.

All of this might seem cool and rebellious, when you’re a teenager, but when you’ve passed a certain age of biological maturity, it all Is just detrimental to your health in the long run, causing chain reactions leading to sickness, injury, burn-out, depression and chronic health problems that take months if not years to treat, and sometimes leave irreversible damage for a surgeon to contemplate on.

If you’re willing to commit and admit how you’ve been treating your body, your instrument of your artistic expression, worse than what it deserves, you are ready to face the mirror.

I’ve developed a special service allowing you work with me individually. The Medical Throne of Wisdom is an exclusive health experience with me, a performing arts medicine expert and Physiotherapist for Rockstars. Find out more here:
achimowiczanna.wixsite.com/musicbandaid/medicalthroneofwisdom

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Bass Player Health

Your Elbow Tendonitis Starts at the Pelvis… Welcome to ‘The Matrix’ 

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Interview With Bassist and Physiotherapist Anna Achimowicz

Elbow Tendonitis…

If I got a dollar for every time I heard a weak muscle needs to be strengthened, I would probably be a millionaire by now. The fact that I’m not (yet) is only my fault, I never asked for the pay-up! Now that’s gonna change.

If you read this article, from now on every time you hear that from a trainer, a doctor, a coach or an uninformed bandmate, you send me a dollar! Kidding! (Not)

But when we think of a muscle being ‘weak’ it has nothing to do with being untrained, giving in, or that the song or chord progression is too complicated at the time for your stamina to sustain. That might be the case, and we’ll get to that later, but in principle any muscle. Flexor Carpus Radialis, Rectus Femoris, or Biceps Brachii, all of them, have 3 stages or states of its functionality. And by functionality, I mean proper ’sources’ to work Normal and be Normal-reactive.

A “weak” or painful muscle is not an untrained muscle.

The normal healthy state of a muscle is called NORMO-reactive, we have also HYPER – which is too much, too much contraction versus relaxation, and HYPO- too little, too little contraction versus relaxation, on a general neurological impulse-based level. Hyper-reactive muscles and Hypo-reactive muscles are understood as dysreactive, and always have a reason for them being so, that should be corrected, enhanced or treated.

A muscle contraction is a chemical reaction that causes the nerve system to fire an impulse that contracts the muscles of your forearm and palm to finger a specific note on the fingerboard. In order to do so we need these 8 parameters to be consistent in your body. HYPO-reactivity (“weak”) can be caused by 1) the lymphatic system, especially in dehydration! 2) crania-sacral system, 3) neuro-vascular, 4) nerve system, spine segment lesion responsible for its respective muscle pair, 5) biochemical imbalance, 6) muscle organ connection 8) structural lesion, the for-mentioned- pelvis.

The pelvis – The Bass(e)

The pelvis is the base foundation of everything. Period. In the human body that is, not universally and philosophically. Just like the drums and bass are the foundation of time within a band or a song, fusing everything together in a mutual drive, beat, tone, and tempo. Well so does the pelvis for your whole body. Now, there are over 365 micro lesions, malpositions, and subluxations of the iliol-sacral complex, but for our purposes, we’re gonna focus on the main 3 types, Category I, II, and III, which are the most common, the most typical yet causing a multitude of issues, including as an indirect relation, your elbow lateral or medial epicondylitis. Often named a golfer or tennis elbow, but having to do very little in fact at all, as these symptoms occur rarely as a result of playing the sport, I know at least one bass player that plays golf in his free time, but we need to focus on a wider population, thousands of bass players around the world, and that’s you.

In my practice it’s often the discussion of what was first, the chicken or the egg, meaning, has the injury occurred first and the pelvis just ‘ran with it’ and went into a functional malposition of the so-called ’twisted pelvis’. Or was it the ’twisted pelvis’, that in result led to the injury? The answer is the latter, on most occasions. As medical professionals, applied anatomists, and biomechanists we do not know why that occurs, some claim, it starts in the womb, being curled up to one side, others claim it’s habitual and our one-side dominant arm and leg that is being taught early on in school, others blame it on bad daily habits, such as sitting on one’s wallet in your back jeans pocket, always tapping with the same foot to the rhythm while playing… We’re not quite sure, what we are sure of, is that it occurs almost in everybody, and is mostly indeed correctable but left untreated causes a vast majority of problems.

A ’twisted pelvis’ is functional to your body like a bass guitar cable halfway plugged into an amp. Might transmit some signal but sure doesn’t do its job nor sounds how you rehearsed it for.

Functionally the pelvis is one of the biggest and strongest complexes of joints when in an asymmetric position leads to a chain reaction disrupting nerve function and impulse transmission, which deregulated the automatic activity of muscles supporting the bone structure, especially the hamstrings, compromising the stability of the pelvis, hip joints, spinal column, everything else just follows. A twisted pelvis in any category, left untreated, causes a slue of complex health problems from tinnitus, to ankle joint subluxation, hearing loss, muscle cramps, tendonitis, lumbar spine pain and so much many others, one book could not simply have space for unless it’s a 6000-page long manuscript. That will in time come in book form from me.

What I can say is, in my 15 years of medical experience as a practitioner, I’ve seen only one symmetrical pelvis In my office, and it was a contemporary dancer.

What’s most tricky about it, a twisted pelvis doesn’t hurt, you don’t feel it, and it is very little you can do to correct it with your willpower, body awareness, or training, which would make things even worse. What you do feel however is a pain-chain compensatory reaction, ending up around your elbow manifesting in pain, tingling, numbness, burning and many other sensations including muscle weakness and disc ordination while playing and in daily function. And that’s just simply the consequential symptom. Not diagnosis.

You can find more information about how to book a session with me as well as Anna’s Activation Method, Physiotherapy for Rockstars and Body Management for bass players seminars and the #NEW ‘Medical Endorsement’ available from Performing Arts Medicine CMT at the links below:

achimowiczanna.wixsite.com/bandaid
facebook.com/PerformingArtsMedicineEU
facebook.com/AnnasActivationMethod

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