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So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
#2492732 12/21/15 08:37 PM
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Obviously, exercising is healthy for everyone, pianists being no exception. Doing some cardio is undoubtedly of benefit to our bodies and minds. But what about strength stuff? Sure seems like significant weight training would be a risky endeavor for a serious/professional pianist to undertake, but what about body weight exercises (pushups, pullups, yoga poses, etc). I've googled around, but mostly just see anecdotal (and therefore often contradicting) thoughts. Which, of course, I also welcome here. But what are everyone's thoughts on this? Too much strain on the wrists and elbows, or something that could actually be beneficial to us "small-muscle athletes?"

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492743 12/21/15 09:09 PM
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hmm.. i don't see how weight training could be a risky for a pianist. even a serious/professional one.. weight training, if done correctly, is one of the safest physical activities imo.. if your scared of free weights, go for the weight machines..

i read Arnold Schwarzenneger's book "The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding" and in it, he mentions concert pianists in the context of weightlifting.

in fact, i think arnold was a pianist himself.. just kidding on that one.

Last edited by Gatsbee13; 12/21/15 09:14 PM.
Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492745 12/21/15 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by CleverName
Obviously, exercising is healthy for everyone, pianists being no exception. Doing some cardio is undoubtedly of benefit to our bodies and minds. But what about strength stuff? Sure seems like significant weight training would be a risky endeavor for a serious/professional pianist to undertake, but what about body weight exercises (pushups, pullups, yoga poses, etc). I've googled around, but mostly just see anecdotal (and therefore often contradicting) thoughts. Which, of course, I also welcome here. But what are everyone's thoughts on this? Too much strain on the wrists and elbows, or something that could actually be beneficial to us "small-muscle athletes?"

Cardio is always beneficial. Especially if you are playing Rach 3, Brahms 1 or 2, or Busoni concertos - you don't want to run out of steam towards the end wink.

As for strength training, pianists should be careful about doing anything that has the potential to cause injury - and that includes push-ups (with hands flat on the ground, the wrist is in hyper-dorsiflexion, straining the flexor muscles). And that includes yoga.

I've been doing 'natural' cardio (running, hiking, climbing etc) and 'artificial' strength training (weights and apparatus at the gym) for decades, with not a single injury. The only time I've come close to an injury was in a yoga class (populated by lithe hyper-flexible ladies, apart from yours truly attempting to impress said ladies...... cry).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
bennevis #2492752 12/21/15 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by CleverName
Obviously, exercising is healthy for everyone, pianists being no exception. Doing some cardio is undoubtedly of benefit to our bodies and minds. But what about strength stuff? Sure seems like significant weight training would be a risky endeavor for a serious/professional pianist to undertake, but what about body weight exercises (pushups, pullups, yoga poses, etc). I've googled around, but mostly just see anecdotal (and therefore often contradicting) thoughts. Which, of course, I also welcome here. But what are everyone's thoughts on this? Too much strain on the wrists and elbows, or something that could actually be beneficial to us "small-muscle athletes?"

Cardio is always beneficial. Especially if you are playing Rach 3, Brahms 1 or 2, or Busoni concertos - you don't want to run out of steam towards the end wink.

As for strength training, pianists should be careful about doing anything that has the potential to cause injury - and that includes push-ups (with hands flat on the ground, the wrist is in hyper-dorsiflexion, straining the flexor muscles). And that includes yoga.

I've been doing 'natural' cardio (running, hiking, climbing etc) and 'artificial' strength training (weights and apparatus at the gym) for decades, with not a single injury. The only time I've come close to an injury was in a yoga class (populated by lithe hyper-flexible ladies, apart from yours truly attempting to impress said ladies...... cry).


Ahhhh. And that's how people get hurt doing yoga. You have to be tuned in to what your body is telling you at all times (not what other people's bodies are telling you...heh heh). I lifted weights for years, but now I do yoga. Done correctly, you should never have an injury, or experience pain...it's actually a very gentle way to build flexibility, strength and balance, if you're patient! Keeping my core strong is great for sitting at the piano for a couple of hours without feeling fatigued.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492774 12/22/15 12:54 AM
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Well, I do know one well-known concert pianist who works out in the weight room, and he looks it, and plays just fine. I'm sure he knows exactly how to use the weights properly.

Me...no weights, but don't try to take my bike away from me! One thing I've noticed as a pianist is that handlebars with just one grasping position don't work for me. I need to keep my hands moving, so drop bars are key -- I can move around and relieve pressure in so many ways.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492778 12/22/15 01:46 AM
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When I re-started Piano, I experienced some aches and pains in my torso and lower Bach (ha ha). Probably from sitting too rigidly.

After some research I adapted some of my own dance exercises to re-activate a lot of the back and shoulder muscles (which had forgotten how to be part of the piano playing process). No heavy lifting - just full body movements, kinda of like tai chi / yoga / calisthenics. it helped a lot I can now sit in front of the piano for 2-4 hours now without discomfort. And I play better when I incorporate those movements into my normal exercise routine.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492783 12/22/15 02:26 AM
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Lifting weights won't give you any problem


Poetry is rhythm
Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
bennevis #2492843 12/22/15 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
...The only time I've come close to an injury was in a yoga class (populated by lithe hyper-flexible ladies, apart from yours truly attempting to impress said ladies...... cry).


Sounds like your ego was to blame, not the yoga.


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Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492858 12/22/15 10:19 AM
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He was not a pianist, but the violinist Yehudi Menuhin was very much into yoga, and was instrumental in helping to popularize it in the West.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492890 12/22/15 12:26 PM
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I know a concert pianist who plays senior hockey as a hobby. He was good even before, but I think his piano skills have improved since he started with hockey training.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492895 12/22/15 12:55 PM
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Weight training to strengthen the upper back muscle is very beneficial for shoulder pains.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2492921 12/22/15 02:38 PM
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Sure haven't had any problems playing the piano because of lifting weigts.

On the contary, it makes me feel (and possibly perform) better.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
Groove On #2492936 12/22/15 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Groove On
When I re-started Piano, I experienced some aches and pains in my torso and lower Bach (ha ha). Probably from sitting too rigidly.

After some research I adapted some of my own dance exercises to re-activate a lot of the back and shoulder muscles (which had forgotten how to be part of the piano playing process). No heavy lifting - just full body movements, kinda of like tai chi / yoga / calisthenics. it helped a lot I can now sit in front of the piano for 2-4 hours now without discomfort.


It's very important to move and bend your spine every way it can move. The discs have no blood supply, the only fluid exchange they get is from motion.



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Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2493062 12/22/15 10:40 PM
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I'll put in a good word for ballet here. Great for core, back and shoulder strength and flexibility, awareness of what the body is doing, relating to rhythm and thinking about being musical in a different way than we do when we are busy making music.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

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Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2493512 12/24/15 04:17 PM
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I train martial arts and have done so as a teenager, then in my 30s up until now. And competed in a good bunch of full contact amateur matches in different disciplines. My hands get a bit sore every now and then from hitting the bag (which i try to not overdo)and i've broken a couple of bones in it over the years (never a finger though), and i really haven't noticed any problems or my playing being affected by it (i used to play guitar quite a lot in teens). My teachers have always been not cool with it but they finally accept that it does not affect my playing the way they could have thought.

I did climb for 4- years and i remember my hands , well my fingers to be more exact, felt it much worse than it ever felt with combat sports/martial arts.

And obviously, the benefits of a very active and complete sport would always outweigh any other potential cons. I really haven't had any other sports that kept me focused and going to the gym 4-5 days a week. Team sports never did it for me and i'v done running and swimming , but it took quote a lot of will to keep them up.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2493521 12/24/15 04:41 PM
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Lately, it seems I've been doing quite a bit of snow shoveling.
Think it'll help my piano playing?


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Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
CleverName #2493585 12/25/15 02:38 AM
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Know your limits, listen to your body, use the right muscle groups, and you'll be fine. I had a wrist problem about two years ago that seemed to be cured by moderate weight training. Most exercises or training programs will be good for you if done correctly, so make sure you get some guidance if it's the first time you're starting a new routine.

Re: So what's the verdict on pianists and exercise?
izaldu #2493594 12/25/15 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by izaldu
... i really haven't noticed any problems or my playing being affected by it ...


Same here, except if I go to the piano immediately after some other strenuous use of my hands and arms. Proprioception seems to take a little while to recover.



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