Drumming may not seem like a dangerous activity, unless you consider the addictive nature of rhythm and the “rabbit hole” of discovering new drums and percussion instruments. Drumming is a physical activity, no matter which type of drum is played, and as such, can cause injuries to any drummer – whether a beginner or a drummer who has been feelin’ the beat for years. Through proper posture, stretching and an understanding of the various maladies of a drummer, the dangers of drumming can be reduced dramatically for all drummers and percussionists.
Most drumming injuries fall into two categories: overuse injuries and traumatic injuries. Any drummer should understand that his or her body is merely an extension of the drum or hand percussion instrument, and has only so much bendability or skin thickness to combat the various drumming dangers in the world. As a slave to the beat, keeping the body well fed, rested and in shape before a drumming session can help ease both the overuse injuries that occur, as well as help sharpen the mind and enhance the “fight or flight” sense that occurs before a traumatic drumming injury.
The dangers of drumming can be found in the repetitive nature of hitting a drum with the hands, sticks or mallets, or even the foot/ankle/leg motion required for a kick drum or cajon. Overusing the body to perfect that perfect groove will inevitably lead to physical ailments like tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, back and neck pain or issues like epicondylitis or neuritis. By maintaining a steady beat in terms of the time spent drumming, and through proper warm-up techniques, a drummer can forego these “ailments of the West” and continue to provide the percussion inspiration needed to keep everyone else up and dancing.
Sprains, strains, blisters, slips and falls can all be considered traumatic drumming injuries, because they usually occur in a moment where concentration and focus is not on the dangers of drumming. Essentially, a drummer could be so into a beat that she or he accidentally snaps a drum stick or hits the metal rim on a drum with the hand. Traumatic drum injuries also occur when running away from percussion fans and paparazzi, as the risk for slipping and falling is dramatically increased in times of panic.
Avoiding the dangers of drumming proves to be an interesting study in the effect of drumming and rhythm on perception, body and mind consciousness and the scientific understanding of the body and physical world that surrounds us. As such, while drumming, always remember to warm up the body and mind, stretch the muscles, clear any thoughts outside of the music, and, of course, exercise common sense.