Keeping healthy for violin playing

December 6, 2017, 7:32 PM · Curious as to things other people do to keep their bodies in shape for playing. I know some people stretch, do yoga, pilates, massage etc. I recently heard about something called nerve flossing that looks interesting and also The Melt Method which reminded me of the Miracle Ball Method I bought 25 years ago and started using again.

Replies (35)

December 6, 2017, 7:50 PM · I don't do anything specific to keep healthy for violin playing. As a rule, if you keep healthy for general purposes, you should be fine for violin playing, as long as you play correctly.
December 6, 2017, 9:03 PM · I agree with Ella.

It's tempting to take up prancercise, though. (look it up on youtube and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor)

December 6, 2017, 9:31 PM · Keeping a consistency to your playing is helpful for maintaining violin health. I don't do anything specific to keep healthy, aside from trying to keep the amount of time and kinds of activities I do relatively similar day-to-day.
December 6, 2017, 9:58 PM · I maintain at least 30 min/day cardio work out and 30 min yoga each day when I'm not at the gym. When I go to gym, then I'd work out at least one hour intensely with cardio and weights. I also walk a lot and do random deep squatting. I practice standing and sometimes walking around or standing on one leg for balancing. These activities are probably not enough to keep me on top condition. I'm hoping to increase my exercise time and intensity gradually in the next a few months.
December 6, 2017, 11:04 PM · Yixi, actually I would say maybe all these activities together are a bit too much!
I think anyone should give stretches a try, not just for violin, but general well-being.
Edited: December 7, 2017, 1:25 AM · Gym 3-6 times a week, depending on how my injuries are behaving and what program I'm working on. HIIT once/twice a week, medium intensity cardio for 15-25 minutes every gym day, + biking and running in the summer.

Healthy body, healthly(ier) mind. Healthy mind, healthy music.

The concept of nerve flossing makes me cringe, much like anything else offered at a chiropractors office and I'm not sure if it's something I actually buy at all. I haven't done any research on it and have just done a precursory google search - I'd need to dig into WorldCat and Ebsco before I said for sure what I thought of it.


I'd say that what Yixi is doing is quite an acceptable amount and she is probably going to have healthy hips well into her 80's and 90's. The body usually tells you when too much is too much - this can manifest as excessive fatigue, soreness, or injuries. Once you've done any form of intense exercise for awhile you get to be able to tell the difference between delayed onset muscle soreness and actual injury, so if you body isn't screaming at you you're good to go.


To add to your theme of knee movements and balance training, have you considered one of the large frame Tai-Chi's? Very good for balance and flexibility. Chen fixed a lot of my flexibility issues by going deeper into the motions each time I did it. I didn't realize how stiff I'd gotten until I tried it, haha.

Edited: December 8, 2017, 12:03 AM · Michael, I've done quite a bit Tai-Chi back in the 80s when I was a oncology nurse in Shanghai. It was mandatory for us to learn and practice so that we could be healthy and educated enough to guide our patents when needed. I was a restless young woman then and the way we were taught was just not inspiring so there's some baggage staying with me till this day. I tried to learn again in Canada a few times, from non-Chinese teachers. Didn't work either. Ashtanga and Yin Yoga now fill the gap.

Roman, according to GPs' advice, in order to have healthy heart, one needs to keep the daily cardio workout that reaches 80-85% of one's maximum heart rate for 30 min. The need for conditioning core, shoulder and leg muscles is obvious for violin players, as we are in fact athletes. Given most time of my day is sedentary, including playing violin, reading, knitting, arguing with people on, etc., actually I'm not doing enough workout.

Edited: December 7, 2017, 11:38 AM · Right now I'm lifting weights, but otherwise yoga. I should probably do more cardio. Meditation is nice. I'm not generally into alternative modalities or whatever, but I go to Alexander Technique lessons, and find them helpful for not only violin, but lifting weights as well. Sleep is big, and I try and maintain a healthy diet.

Yixi, that daily intense cardio sounds like a little much (practically - It sounds like a great regimen though). Is the recommendation really that high? I bet like 2% of the population does that.

Edited: December 7, 2017, 11:50 AM · Laura -- this is an excellent topic!

Violin requires such high levels of focus, energy, and core support to play well and for extended periods that I think some attention is needed. Many people are leading increasingly sedentary lives, and this can be particularly true of musicians who spend a lot of time practicing and at rehearsals. I exercise daily (running and light weight lifting), eat well, drink only water and tea, and do daily meditation.

Keeping a high but balanced level of physical and mental energy is the key. If a person can barely make it through a practice session, it isn't likely to be very beneficial!

Mary Ellen -- if you start to Prancercise, please post a video :-D

Edited: December 7, 2017, 12:58 PM · Christian, yup. That's specifically recommended by a couple of my trusted GPs and it's apparently uncontroversial among other GPs who are keeping up with the latest literature.
Edited: December 7, 2017, 11:56 AM · I try to eat right -- pizza, burgers, take-out, anything fried -- and I make sure to wash that down with at least a couple of beers to keep my liver in optimal condition. For exercise I watch reruns of "Law and Order" on television. I'm hoping to have a heart attack within the next few years before my term life policy expires. So far it's not working real well so I might have to take up cigarettes. LOL
Edited: December 7, 2017, 12:14 PM · Paul -- can I suggest the DJT "presidential" daily dinner?

- two Big Macs
- two Fillet-O-Fish
- large fries
- chocolate shake

I heard that Angioplasty may be added to the menu in the near future.

December 7, 2017, 12:28 PM · When I feel I should take more exercise I check out my age card and lie down until the feeling goes away.
December 7, 2017, 12:41 PM · The rich really do know how to live. Such luxury...

Yixi, I guess I'll have to step my game up then.

Edited: December 7, 2017, 12:58 PM · 4-5 hours on this baby every day will having you play Pagannini caprices like nobody's business:

Follow up with a cool down on this gem:

December 7, 2017, 12:59 PM · Sorry, I have to correct: the recommended minimum intense cardio work is 5 days/week.

According Mayo Clinic:

Aerobic activity.

Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity — such as brisk walking, swimming or mowing the lawn — or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — such as running or aerobic dancing. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. It's best to do this over the course of a week.

Strength training.
Strength train at least twice a week. Consider free weights, weight machines or activities that use your own body weight — such as rock climbing or heavy gardening. The amount of time for each session is up to you.

December 7, 2017, 1:31 PM · I suppose it depends on the body dynamics of each one while practicing. I do an extraordinary amount of running by many standards. Almost 100km every week (11Km/1h every morning and 40Km/5 hours every Saturday. Sundays I rest) On top of that I go to work by bicycle and practice martial arts and Yoga. I did all that before playing the violin. However, even with all my training I feel my back and shoulders very tense after some practices and I have found out that swimming soothes in minutes any back tension. I recommend swimming a lot for anyone who needs to study/practice still for hours daily.
December 7, 2017, 2:09 PM · Robert Schumann, as an up-and-coming star concert pianist used some sort of mechanical device to strengthen his fingers. Unfortunately, something went badly wrong, one of his fingers being crippled as a result. Which is how Robert Schumann became a composer.

There's a moral in there somewhere, I'm believe.

December 7, 2017, 2:16 PM · I just tried Prancercize this morning and the police started following me. I can't figure out why.
December 7, 2017, 2:51 PM · "I just tried Prancercize this morning and the police started following me. I can't figure out why."

LOL! I'm pretty sure everyone else was keeping their distance though.

If I ever were to do Prancercise, the last thing I'd want would be video.

December 7, 2017, 3:01 PM · I reckon Prancercize is best done in a secluded field in the company of a like-minded horse (or pony, or perhaps a dog).
December 7, 2017, 5:36 PM · I would imagine it is best done alone and not near a window. Perhaps in a bunker of some sort.
December 7, 2017, 5:45 PM · Just keep in mind that, when the police are following you and the neighbors are screaming at their kids to "GET IN THE HOUSE,NOW !!!", you can't put too high a price on good health.
December 7, 2017, 9:20 PM · Interesting and amusing. I have not spent enough (actually any) time around horses to be able to have a clue on how to properly prancercize. But perhaps I could imitate the cat when she is flying through the air attacking her cat toy.
December 8, 2017, 8:32 AM · Laura, there are instructional videos on youtube. I wish I were making this up.
December 8, 2017, 1:43 PM · Yeah, keeping healthy in general is enough for most people (i.e. cardio and a good diet). I'd actually say sleep is equally important.

I happen to enjoy lifting weights and the extra strength doesn't hurt, but it's not really necessary with the sort of stuff I'm performing (unlike soloists who need the stamina for a 45-minute concerto plus encore).

Edited: December 8, 2017, 7:22 PM · OK, ah-- no.

aside from flicking strings with my pinky, everything, less the exercise above, in moderation

Edited: December 9, 2017, 7:20 AM · I tried an exercise for a sore neck from Frankenkrais, some exercise method. It got rid of neck pain in less than 5 minutes. So I'm thinking, perhaps these other exercises may be of help. I'll give them a try.
December 8, 2017, 9:06 PM · Oh my! The video scared my cat away.
Edited: December 8, 2017, 9:15 PM · scares everyone... except Mary Ellen
Edited: December 9, 2017, 12:27 PM · Yixi, that Prancercise demo in the Fitness with Passion video was sure frightening the horses, so I'm minded to resile from my previous opinion :) - except that a dog would look on it as yet another game and would expect a ball to be thrown.
December 9, 2017, 10:13 AM · I like this guy's approach. Yes, it seems at first to be at odds with playing the violin, but then aren't we in the era of doing whatever is against common sense?

Edited: December 12, 2017, 6:44 AM · That Prancercise demo also reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow's trademark running gait. 'Nuff said!
December 10, 2017, 3:01 PM · The human body evolved to move. Exercise is an adaptation to a world where we don't move a lot. So, the key to any good exercise is movement. The problem is that humans also like to be immobile. So, we have to find a form of movement that we like so much that a day without makes us miss doing it. Simply there is no single form of motion that will work for everyone. Some people like the gym because it is efficient. Others like to swim, walk, run, jog, practice yoga, bicycle,.. and the list goes on.

Personally, my motion of choice is bicycling, specifically tandem bicycling with my wife of over 42 years. But maybe that isn't for you. That's just fine as long as you find something that keeps you in motion and makes you feel good.

December 10, 2017, 5:00 PM · Doug, you know DJT doesn't eat the buns with those two Big Macs and two Filet-O-Fishes. And no fries either. It's still a heart attack on a plate.

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