Violin compatible sports
We need exercise to keep our bodies fit - but not all are compatible with, or even sensible, for playing the violin. I recently took up badminton again and am loving it. Its relatively low impact and hence, I hope it won't result in muscle build up that hampers my violin playing. Of course, there are hazards of injury, but that is probably true of all competitive sports.
What do you guys do to stay fit - other than go to the gym (which I find too boring) - what sports and how have they worked with your violin playing?
I play tennis! It's a great sport that won’t hurt you if you look after your technique, and if you don’t play with stiff racquets (<65 Ra) and stiff strings (multifilament and syn gut strings are great). Also, stringing at lower tensions is better for your arm. If you do otherwise, you’ll probably hurt your elbow or your shoulder.
Same as Miguel. Tennis. It's a great sport.
I don't care about being sensible -- it has to be something you enjoy in order to get the full benefit. For me, team sports are the only realistic option, because individual sports tend to cause me to ruminate and think depressive thoughts. So I play soccer and sometimes basketball. I know the risk of injury is high, but I'd rather take risks than hate my exercise.
Best sport ever invented - walking.
Does anyone know a violinist who is also a golfer? Highly compatible I should think.
It is hard to think of any sport that is a problem for violin playing. The main thing you have to do is try to avoid injuring your shoulders, arms or hands. Getting tennis elbow, shoulder bursitis, breaking your arm or getting some hand ailment is not going to help your violin playing, but those injuries result from how you do the sport rather than being intrinsic to the sport itself. I bicycle and work out on the elliptical; both avoid any real involvement of the hands arms or shoulders.
How about body-building Tom? Or related isometric sports. I remember someone who had problems playing because of the muscle buildup.
A round of golf is a good morning's violin practice spoiled.
I practice archery (mainly indoor). I shoot with barebow (no aim aids, balancing, etc), and i chose to shoot as a lefty, so to have a symmetric position relative to violin playing.
I really love boxing but I find I have to be really careful with actually damaging my hands, I couldn't practice one day because I had been training pretty hard the day before. It has never been too bad as of yet so fingers crossed it stays that way.
Gordon I don't think that walking was invented
I'm considering taking up frisbee golf.
Gordon wrote: "Best sport ever invented - walking."
Heifetz did tennis. Basketball should be included in the dangerous list for musicians. I broke a left hand finger doing basketball.
Like Joel, I broke a left finger playing basketball (in middle school).
I've had a saying now for 40 years: When in doubt, do Yoga
Agree with Nancy. The physical version of Yoga is very good, it helped me get through joint problems. I just would not call it a sport.
A similar topic came out a few years back and this seemed popular.
Mind, my aunt (aged 70) has done her knee in doing yoga (reverse warrior?), so it's not that good on your joints.
Elise - if you want your limbs to ache, try judo. A one-minute "fight" after a session of exercises was the longest minute of my life, and I ached all over for a week, recovering just in time for the next session. I soon decided "no pain, no gain" is a myth.
A few odds and ends come to mind -
TaiChi is a good companion activity. I do Sun style, it isn't as explosive as some other styles, good for flexibility and keeping arthritic joints moving. It's also fun, I combine with hiking as weather/schedule permits.
walking and pingpong (table tennis)
My personal "sports"/exercise generally include running/walking and hot yoga.
There was a recent topic of a mountain climber - and the comments suggested that the required finger/hand motions would ruin the ability to play with either hand. I don't think I would take up martial arts either because of the likelihood of straining fingers or limbs.
I started learning Karate about the same time I took up violin at 7yrs old. At age 9, I added judo, basketball, and soccer. Even before that, I was already active in swimming. I played basketball and baseball through high school, while also active in playing the violin and piano.
To what Ingrid has said: in addition to never having had to stop playing violin or viola because of contact sports injuries, the injury that kept me off the soccer field the longest was not sustained while playing or training either. It was when I sprained a knee getting into bed on my first night in a new dorm room. (I wasn't done unpacking, had open boxes next to the bed, and twisted my leg awkwardly because of it.) I missed almost an entire season.
George: "I couple I know got really fit by doing what they really love - ballroom dancing. They converted a room in their house to a dance room and they dance (and sweat) every day and love every minute of it."
Wow just catching up to this thread.
" It's more of like, a whipping motion with a lot of the power generated from the rotation of your upper body." Correct me if I am wrong, but this translates into ball-hitting power through the weight of the racquet that is already in motion. Thus, tennis is very different from many other racquet games that use much lighter 'paddles'. In badminton or table tennis the racquet is so light that it has no momentum; power has to be created by the arm itself. The primary method is actually arm rotation with some help from hand and finger (for flicks) and just a minor component from the upper arm and body (in smashes).
Yes. In tennis you generate power using your whole body. You have to transfer momentum to the ball. Same with golf. Ping pong is more about accuracy and finesse. You have plenty of strength from the elbow down to send the ball 20 times farther than it needs to go. You have to get pretty good at racquet sports before they will give you a consistent aerobic workout. If you have never played tennis before, hire a pro for at least a few dozen lessons. That will combine workout and training. I surprised myself by being able to learn tennis (although not to a high level) in my late 30s by hiring a good coach. Lessons aren't all that expensive unless you get them at a posh club. Look for someone who coaches high school tennis. They know how to teach the game.
Clay target shooting...
"Clay target shooting". Yes like violin - just be careful that in a fit of practice-pique you don't throw it up in the air and call 'bird!' ...
@James T: You’re probably right for most cases. In my particular case, I can’t stand polyester strings even at a low tension or combined with gut/multifilament. They always make my elbow hurt badly 15 to 20 minutes in. I couldn’t even stand them when I competed as a teen (my technique was way better back then. I quit the sport for many years and took it up again last year). I’m not a strong guy, and I’m probably more injury-prone than most people my age. So I avoid these strings like a plague and gladly restring my racquet more frequently and renounce to the extra-spin they provide.
A famous violin teacher once recommended bowling. Good for keeping the right arm loose.
Bowling is fine but get a bespoke-drilled ball or it will screw your thumb.
Which kind of bowling did Stephen mean? Noisy indoors with a drilled ball, or traditional with a plain ball (as per Sir Walter Raleigh in the time of Queen Elizabeth 1) outdoors on grass?
Cricket I think Trevor :D
When I won my job in the orchestra in 1987 I signed up for TaeKwonDo.It is a martial art that combines flexibilty, strength, speed and endurance.The heavy discipline was an added benefit.Teamwork was highly stressed which I easily applied to playing in an orchestra.GrandMaster Chung Oh was well aware I played the violin professionally so I avoided brick breaking etc.in the lower dans of blackbelt.By third dan it was required but I was careful.
Tennis MUST be a disaster - Think what it did to Jascha and Pablo's playing …
Peter - I did just a bit of Taekwondo in college but in our group sessions about half of the lesson was dedicated to 'street-fighting'. Since your opponent was random there was a good chance of getting a nutcase with issues that could easily injure you. That's when I quit.
A lot depends on the level of the sport. For occasional recreational volleyball, it's probably not too dangerous. I played pretty competitive volleyball for a couple of decades, and accumulated quite a bit of wrist fractures and sprains. While young, it didn't bother me too much, but now I'm in the 60's and all that damage has progressed into arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
My side of family has sustained a LOT of injuries from both skiing and horseback riding, including broken back (that was so scary), fractured arms and legs, and concussions. Needless to say, I do not let my daughter ski or ride horses.
For bowling, I am pretty sure he meant with the large ball on the wooden lane. He was based in the Midwest at that time.
My father and my aunt both played high level table tennis, and both got quite bad injuries, my father at least one hernia from running into the corner of the table, but my aunt fell over and broke one of her wrists badly.
I understand Elise.It was rough at times.Im too old to go back now.
The sport of calisthenics... ;)
"The sport of calisthenics..."
Yoga, Pilates, weight training, cycling, and walking work for me.
Christian; you probably got many of those exercises from TKD I can imagine!I still use the warm up stretches every morning.The patterns were wonderful to work on.Very much like studies.Sparring was more like improvising.
Well said Christian !The breathing control is an important part of training in TKD and really helped my conducting(youth orchestra, community orchestra etc.)It is an aspect of playing that is sometimes neglected in my opinion.
Skydiving, you can even play as you're going down ;-)
I took up skiing a few years ago as an adult (age 23 or 24, I believe.) Incredibly, I think it has made me a much better violinist as far as the psychological aspect of playing goes. When you are skiing a really steep slope or tight run, ie so steep you can’t see the other side when you stand at the top, you need to ‘commit’ to the line and just GO! Somehow it helped me get over my fear of playing really fast repertoire and learn to enjoy the speed. Another way skiing is like performing on violin- you need to remain in a state where your body is flexible and supple yet your muscles are actively engaged and flexing all the time, and your mind must be at once relaxed yet very focused.
Good call on the skiing Liz, I hope it continues to work out for you. Well, maybe I chose the right sport too - Badminton - I strained both achilles tendons and its taken 2-3 weeks to be able to walk without limping. BUT this has not affected my playing!
Just do pushups, plank and run. They're better for what you want than sports, also safer and sports take too much time.
Yes, Elise, when I feel a fall coming, I usually try to fall
here, Hilary Hahn demonstrates skiing for musicians (nice to see she's human after all!): https://www.instagram.com/p/B7J3YDCgpvw/
I have found that playing the violin has made me more ambidextrous: I’m left-handed but I have built up a considerable amount of strength and coordination in my right hand, which has helped me a develop a two-handed backhand (essentially a right handed forehand for a left hander) that feels more natural than my left handed forehand.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.