Bass Player Health
Your Elbow Tendonitis Starts at the Pelvis… Welcome to ‘The Matrix’
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: