Art Hurts


By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN

As a long time classical flutist I can personally attest to this statement. After especially extended rehearsal times, my lips have been known to go numb and tingly, my fingers to cramp up and my shoulders and arms to feel like I have been lifting weights from sustaining the same position for hours. Yes folks – art can hurt. I have the utmost respect and sympathy for professional artists who do this on a daily basis for three or four times as many hours as I ever have. For creative professionals, art doesn’t just hurt sometimes – it can be nearly debilitating.

If a physical therapist, occupational therapist, chiropractor or physician were to glance at a patient chart and see injuries such as pinched nerves, unaligned spinal columns, broken toes, muscle strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder bursitis, neck injuries, hearing loss, herniated discs, rotator cuff injuries, back spasms, would they associate such conditions with the delicate grace of being an artist?  Whether they make that connection or not, the fact remains that repetitive use and strain injuries affect painters, dancers, singers, instrumentalists and other artists. These injuries can be blamed on the adage “practice makes perfect,” from holding the body in sustained, often awkward positions or simply from the physical exertion of throwing oneself into a performance with every ounce of themselves. In fact, many artists who are cognizant of the physical effort required to practice their art, train their body with the same intensity as athletes. Let it never be said that being an artist is a “soft” way to make a living.

As a traveling physical therapist or travel occupational therapist on assignment, the next time you see some of the injuries I listed above – you might want to think “artist” not “athlete.”

Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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