Testimonial from Ben

In Uncategorized by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Ben is someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with for several years now. He came to me complaining of SI Joint pain, among other things. After a year or so, we still have new things to overcome daily, but he loves the challenge of getting his body to work the way it should and getting stronger. Thanks for you kind words, Ben!

 

After almost 5 years of living with pain on a pretty regular basis, I did some searching and reached out to Basics and Beyond in the summer of 2017. I had developed a SI Joint problem from years of sitting and working at a computer for way too many hours each day. I’ve been working with Angela for a bit over 6 months now and the entire experience has been awesome. I am for the most part totally pain free with just very occasional moments of pain/discomfort, which seem to be a direct result of me falling behind on my exercise and spending too much time working at the computer. Previously I had seen good chiropractors and massage therapists, who were all helpful, but nothing has helped nearly as much as working with Angela from Basics and Beyond and getting my body in shape. I’m feeling much stronger, more energized, and more stable, plus there’s the added bonus of looking better too 😉 Not only am I learning how to properly work out and getting in shape, but I’m also learning about my physical ailments (turns out I have a couple), proper posture and things I can put into practice in my day to day. Angela is extremely knowledgeable. I learn something new with each session, which I attend 2 days per week. Whenever I do have any pain or discomfort I describe it to Angela and she always seems to have the answers – educating me and giving me an exercise that often immediately addresses and alleviates the pain. They really do go above and beyond the basics. Highly recommend for anyone and everyone Thank you so much!

The Maturing Flutist

In Corrective Exercise, Fitness, Flute, Travel by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Yesterday Dr. Steve Mitchell and I co-presented at the National Flute Association Convention in Orlando, FL.  Our talk was titled “The Maturing Flutist” and it covered a lot of the issues that concern aging musicians and the elderly populations.  You don’t need to be a flutist to benefit from this, as lots of the things we covered relate to the older population in general. Dr. Mitchell is a retired ENT in Nashville, TN and brings a wealth of medical knowledge to the presentation – it was great to tag team with him!  He covered some of the more medical things and I covered some basics on how to exercise as a senior (Or as he called it “presenting demos on what to physically do to avoid disasters”)
Some of the things we covered:

  • Bone and Joints
  • Stress
  • Muscle Atrophy/Sarcopenia
  • Posture
  • Common physical problems as we age (upper and lower crossed syndrome, balance issues)
  • General strength training and cardiovascular training guidelines
  • Special population considerations

A couple of things we didn’t have time to get into:

Exercises:
Chin Tucks – 
Think about pulling the back of your head straight to the ground.  You can put your hand on the front of your neck to make sure it isn’t engaged.  Do 10-20 at a time, depending. These are best done lying down, as I’m demonstrating here.

Rows

Here’s how to do them and why

Planks

A plank is a stabilization exercise that activates the core muscles which is hugely important for everything, to be general! Without good core strength your balance is compromised, upper and lower crossed syndromes present, etc.  For flutists and wind instrumentalists, core strength is vital for support, endurance, balance, the list goes on.  To do a plank properly:

  • Put your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Bring your belly button to your spine
  • Bring your neck to the ceiling and look straight down (spine in neutral)
  • Squeeze your butt

You can do this starting out with straight arms on a table, stairs, wall etc. and work your way down to the ground.  Here’s an example of proper plank form:


To make it more difficult, make it less stable.  You can try these variations the trick is to try to keep your hips stable and don’t let them move.

Balance exercises – a lot of people asked if practicing balance while closing your eyes was a good idea and Dr. Steve and I both agreed it was not.  To make balance exercises effective:

  1. draw your belly button to your spine and stand tall
  2. lift your foot barely off the ground
  3. lift your arch
  4. Do this with good precautions like standing in a doorway or corner to prevent falling when you start

To make balance exercises more difficult, move from stable to unstable.  You can move your body around, move your leg, hinge from the hips, add motion, stand on a Bosu or half foam roll or even a pillow, have someone throw something light weight at you and you catch it.  Lots of options without having to close your eyes and increase fall risk.

To clarify about foam rolling with osteoporosis: it was a generalized  contraindication, everyone is different.  The main things to notice are where you have the most bone loss and putting pressure on those areas can increase the risk of fracture.  As always, clear things with your doctor first.

Several people asked for the power point presentation, feel free to download it here:

Mat Flute Combo 2018

I streamed it live on my Facebook page, here it is in its entirity:

 

 

We really enjoyed it and would love to hear your feedback! Had so many good questions and comments afterwards.  Looking forward to doing more on this topic at next year’s convention!

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3 Marching Band Fitness Hacks for Flutists

In Fitness, Flute by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Ah band camp….long, hot days with your instrument and at the end you’re rewarded with an aching back and feet, right?  Well, you might not be able to get out of marching band, and you might not be able to change your band director’s mind about what’s good for you to do vs. what looks good, but here are 3 postural hacks you can do on the field, without anyone really even noticing that may just make things a little more bearable.

1. Think about your posture differently

Words carry a connotation. When you hear “snap”, you probably stand very tall and might even lock your knees. We all know this is bad, no one wants to pass out.  However, we’re going for a clean and precise movements, right?  Well, the thing is, instead of thinking “back straight”, think “chest high”.  This will allow you to breathe better and feel more fluid with still excellent posture.  No one will be able to see a difference, but you’ll feel one.  Try thinking these phrases:

  • Float the flute up
  • Chest up
  • Stand tall
  • Breathe through your feet
  • Chin parallel, top of head floating up
  • Elbows relaxed
  • If you have a partner, during a break try this to see if you have relaxed arms: Stand behind your partner and have them bring their flute up.  Put your hands under their elbows and see if you can feel the weight of their elbows.

2. Alternating bracing and butt squeezing

Huh? Yep, I’m serious.  You know how at the end of the day your low back, heck, your entire back just aches and about the only thing that feels good is to lie on the floor with your feet up?  (You SHOULD do that for at least 5-10 minutes every day, by the way)  Well, this will prevent that.  Everybody knows your abs are part of your “core” but so is your rear end.  Your glutes aid in hip extension and when you engage them (ahem, squeeze) your spine is in neutral and that takes the pressure off of your low back.

Added bonus? You can’t squeeze your butt and lock your knees very easily.  Boom, no passing out!

Ok what the heck is bracing? Imagine what you would do if someone was going to punch you in the stomach.  You wouldn’t double over before they did it (you’d get punched in the face), you’d brace, that intrinsic protective feeling all around your middle.  You can do this to a lesser degree while you’re standing there.  You can do it while breathing (if you can’t, you’re doing it too hard).  Alternate bracing and butt squeezing (in a discreet way, think micro-movements) and when you get home lie on your back with your knees up and say goodbye to back pain.

3. Lift the arches of your feet

I’m giving you all the weird things today, aren’t I?  Yup, but, do your feet hurt?  Does your back hurt?  Do your knees hurt?  A big part of that can be because your feet are rolling inward and your feet are flattening out when you stand still.  Standing with your feet together, knees together is an awkward, unnatural position, and the body will compensate any way it can to keep you upright.

So try this next time you’re standing tall and still.

  • Try to lift the arches of your feet, both or one at a time.
  • This is a very small movement. It’s like bringing your big toe towards your heel and rolling outward at the same time.
  • Imagine trying to pick up something with the middle of your foot
  • All else fails, squeeze your toes inward for 4 counts, then lift them high for 4 counts and do your best to notice your arch.
  • Lastly – make sure your shoes have some arch support!

Hope these were helpful – leave me a note here, email angela@musicstrong.com or Facebook message and tell me how these worked for you and if you have any other problem areas! A more in depth article on movement and marching band is coming soon!

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Resistance Training for String Musicians – professional study

In Corrective Exercise by musicstrongLeave a Comment

YAY!! More studies on resistance training for string musicians showing positive results! There is still such a lack of scientific study in this area, so glad to see more research is being done!

I only have access to the abstract (if anyone can send me the full study, please share!) but from what I gather:

24 string musicians from 3 separate symphonies were studied, performing individually designed exercise sessions twice a week over an 11-week period. The researchers wanted to evaluate “whether a functional resistance training program can increase isometric back endurance and isometric strength in the neck, shoulder, and wrist for professional string musicians and affect their perceived performance during instrumental play, as well as their muscle and joint mobility and the occurrence and intensity of pain.”

The results?

“The group showed an 11% to 19% increase in isometric strength for neck and upper extremities and 25% improved isometric endurance in back extensors (p<0.05). Moreover, 29% to 59% of the group showed improvements in mobility”

Corrective exercise FTW!! More studies done please!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29868684

Upcoming performances and events

In Travel, Workshops by musicstrongLeave a Comment

Things are really coming along on the website, and we’ve got a few glitches to workout, but until they get fixed, I don’t want you to miss out on where you can find me and what I’m doing!

6/28/2018 Class 9-10 AM “Morning Mobility” Music City Flute Studio Flute Camp, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Donelson, TN.
Class geared towards flute students beginner-middle school level, on movement and injury prevention from the
beginning!

7/1/2018 Performance 7:00 PM Independence Day Parade and Concert with 129th Army Band, Lancaster, TN www.facebook.com/129AB

7/3/2018 Performance 7:30PM Independence Day Concert with 129th Army Band, Dogwood Park, Cookeville, TN

7/5/2018 Performance 10:30 AM “Arsenal of Fusion” woodwind group from 129th Army Band, Farmer’s Market, Nashville, TN

7/15-7-21 Residency at Stetson University:
Daily: 8:45-9:35 “Morning Mobility” classes
Daily: Fitness for flutists masterclass, times TBA
7/16/18     Faculty Recital 8:00 PM

8/10-8/12/18  National Flute Association

8/10/18   Presentation 3:00 PM NFA “The Maturing Flutist”

8/11/18 Workshop   12:00 PM  NFA “The Trainer is IN: Corrective Exercises, Stretches for Flutists” , Health Committee Booth, Convention                                                                       Exhibit Hall.
8/11/18 Presentation 2:00 PM  NFA “The Trainer is IN: Playing Flute with Cancer“, Health Committee Booth, Convention Exhibit Booth

8/12/18 Presentation 11:30 AM NFA “The Music, Mind, Body, Movement, Muscle”

9/2/18   Performance  7:00 PM Sinfonia Goes Pops! Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Alys Beach, FL

 

 

You Play Your Instrument With Your Legs, Too

In Fitness by AngelaLeave a Comment

How many times do we get caught up in what we’re doing and forget that we have knees, feet, a lower back, arches of feet? How easy is it to focus on our fingers, and lips and breath and not feel: the backs of our necks, the ridge underneath your skull, the insides of your elbows and the outsides of your arms, the back sides of your knees, your belly button?

It’s too easy.

As musicians, we LOVE music – it’s not just a love, it’s part of us, it’s who we ARE. And when we express it, it can be so easy to lose all sense of everything else. Have you ever gotten lost while playing, or conducting, or singing, or composing?  What happens an hour, 2 hours later? It’s like suddenly, at the back of your mind you feel this little wiggle of “hey, hey, HEY! I’m here…this isn’t right, I hurt, fix it please, I love you but stop, please listen to me….” And we either keep going and choose to willfully ignore said little voice, or we “wake up” and stop doing what we’re doing and say “oh my gosh, wow, my neck is tight” or maybe it isn’t even a thought or realization we just come out of our musical trance and move instinctively: leaning backwards, moving from side to side, cracking knuckles and necks.

The body is an AMAZING thing. It was designed to take care of you (even when you forget) and when we subconsciously feel stiff, we move. It’s our body’s way of re-awakening us to the awareness of the rest of us.

So here’s a thought:

In the throes of your practice/music making/composing sessions, do you play with your knees?

This isn’t a trick question.  Are your knees involved? Are you legs involved? What about your butt? Your low back? Feet, arches, calves, etc. etc. etc.?

YES

It sounds silly on one hand and perfect sense on the other…but we’d rather forget it…but hey, you use your entire body to do what you do musically, and if you neglect it…..you’ll stop being able to make music.

Let that sink in for a minute.

If you feel stiff when you stop playing, and you do this every day, or frequently, and never do anything about it, you are setting yourself up for disaster. It’s like a car that has a check engine light that comes on periodically. It may be a faulty sensor and not much, but if it keeps coming up and you ignore it, what if it’s a bigger problem and your engine seizes and suddenly you’re carless? On your way to a gig? To play with Aretha Franklin? Or the President? Or the recording session you’ve always dreamed of?  What if it was your BODY that did the same thing? You get to the dream job and after a sound check, rehearsal and even time on a bus you got to play and suddenly your low back seizes, seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s not out of nowhere friend, there were warning signs all along

 

As stated before, you use your entire body to play music, therefore, you should treat your entire body with respect, and give it the attention it deserves. Guess what? If your upper body hurts, that problem more than likely will manifest itself in your lower body as well.

What do I look for?

Look for cues:  do you tend to notice that one side of your body or one part of your body consistently feels stiff or tight after a session?

Do you notice pain in your knees that wasn’t there before?

Does your low back seem different?

 

Part of this is increasing body awareness, being aware of your entire body while you play. Staying in tune with your feet, your knees, feeling your belly button all those things. Stay grounded and check in with yourself from time to time.

What do I do?

If you’ve noticed some lower body tightness, you can start by using a foam roller on these areas and finding out what hurts.  Whatever is tight is what you need to stretch.