28. July 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: Links

Members of competitive high school marching bands may not be considered athletes, but they work like them — and get injured like them.

Gary Granata, an exercise physiologist in New Orleans, reached that conclusion after surveying 172 members of the local Avon High School Marching Band about how hard they work.

“We saw a level of physical demands and injury incidence comparable to what we see in high school sports,” said Granata, owner of PerformWell LLC, a firm providing nutrition, fitness and wellness services to sports teams, bands and other groups.

The Avon Marching Band members completed an anonymous questionnaire for the study, which was presented at the recent annual meeting of the Indianapolis-based American College of Sports Medicine.

As a result of rehearsals or performances, 17 percent reported they were always tired, nearly 44 percent said they were frequently tired, and 38 percent indicated they were occasionally tired. Nearly one-fourth had experienced episodes of faintness or nausea after band participation, and more than half had heat-related illnesses.

Nearly all of them, 95 percent, had sore or stiff muscles after rehearsals or practices. About 39 percent reported an injury that was a direct result of band participation, while a fourth of them said they had a previous injury that was worsened by being in the band. Injuries to nearly 28 percent of them were serious enough to see a physician. A variety of injuries were reported, including those to ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

What is completely missing in the article is something I am well aware of these days: hearing loss.

Knowing more than I used to about this issue, I wish that band students would have annual hearing tests. And I wish even more that they wore musician’s earplugs — especially when they rehearse in small band rooms and blast away.

You just don’t get a second chance with your ears.

1 Comment

  1. That was the worst part about playing horn in high school marching band – sitting directly in front of the drums – excuse me, percussion section – to whom the musical notation pp seemed to mean “Pound Plenty”…

    But I never thought that marching band was especially tough – I enjoyed the fact that it took the place of “regular” physical education classes. Perhaps back in the ’70s it wasn’t as big a deal – we were supposed to be the “fastest band in the West” or some such nonsense (180/minute, but honestly, who went around checking that out), but back then we didn’t usually play when we marched, we would form some kind of…thingie on the field and then play. Last time I looked high school marching band performances were based more on the way them there drum-and-buggle-bands preform.