The body is made up of a complex network of structures such as muscles and joints which all work together (see Tensegrity). If one set of muscles is over-stressed, this will have an effect on other muscles and joints (see Trigger Points). The traditional musician, therefore, needs to be aware of the muscle work involved in playing his/her musical instrument and to know how to minimise stress on the muscles in order to avoid injury (see Playing-related Aches and Pains).
The basic principle of tensegrity is that every part of a structure has a job to do and that the structure works according to the compression and tension of the different parts; thus, if one part is damaged in any way, it will disrupt the function of all the other parts, making some parts work too hard and others do too little. The body is a tensegrity structure, so it is important not to overload or damage muscles and joints as this will create stresses elsewhere throughout the body (see Trigger points; Playing-related Aches and Pains). Of course, in playing any musical instrument, we are immediately asking the body to work in ways for which it was not designed. This is why we need to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us when they signal (through aches and pains) that we are causing it stress.
Trigger points are like ‘knots’ in a muscle. These ‘knots’ arise when a muscle is over-used, tired or stressed in some way. The long-term way to deal with these is to avoid over-working the muscle (see Muscle Injury).