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What You Should Know: Injury: Artists and Performers

What injuries take performers out or make it very difficult for them?

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Injury for a performing artist can be career-stopping. What injuries take artists, particularly performers, out or make it difficult for them? How do we prevent injury, and what do we do when an injury takes hold?

We will look at common injuries for performing artists: singers, dancers, actors, voice artists, circus artists, and musicians. I asked Andrew Pilcher, a Performers Specialist Physical Therapist (Physiotherapist) who has worked in London, Australia, and across the USA.

A specialist Physical Therapist for injury and artists

Andrew Pilcher has a CV that makes my eyes widen. He has worked with BBC Films London, recording artists such as Coldplay, and over 100 West End musicals. Today, he is USA-based; he works with recording artists in Nashville and for the company on set with significant productions like Marvel films. The company also has Physical Therapists (PTs) working with Broadway shows all over the USA. Due to his expertise, Andrew now trains PTs on how to work with numerous shows and tours, as well as with injury and performing artists. As we know, the show must go on… if it can.

Injury and Performing Artist

Andrew Pilcher not only medically treats the whole performer’s body, but as a vocal Physical Therapist, he also specializes in the voice.

An injury to the body or voice can stop a performer’s income stream and, as a result, cause them unhealthy amounts of stress and anxiety. An injury can also cause production to come to an unexpected halt.

Over his lengthy career, Andrew Pilcher has been responsible for speaking with many company managers. He decides whether a performer will be ready to perform and, if not, how long they will need to rest and recover. It’s no small feat.

The most common area of physical injury for performers

I questioned Andrew about what the most common injuries were for each of the performing artist groups below:

  • Dancers: The most common areas of injury are the ankle and foot. This one varies for Musical Theater, which has more ankle and knee.
  • Singers: surprisingly, it’s not the voice; it’s stress, anxiety, and neck issues.
  • Musicians: its wrist and forearm problems; repetitive strain-type issues.
  • Voice artists and actors: its neck problems.
  • Circus performers: the most common area in Andrew’s experience is the shoulder. However, the circus world has fewer injuries than many other performers; well done if this is you.

Andrew said, “I’m geared and trained to improve performers’ careers and quality of life. Therefore, it’s no small thing when a performer’s career is threatened. When an injury interferes with an artist’s career, it can result in soul-crushing grief; I’m journeying that with them.”

He continued, “One injury story from a show I treated was of a performer who was backflipping in a show, landed badly, and as a result, they damaged their knee.”

Next, he shared that: “The performer had surgery, and everything was going well. The surgeon told this artist they would never dance again, so they did not progress well. Words can be so destructive. The sad thing is this did not need to be the case.”

It’s common to deal with injury.

It’s common to deal with injury for performers or physical areas that need management. For example, in the singer’s field of work, Andrew shared that: “longer term in a vocalist’s life; it’s common that a vocalist will have some degree of managing vocal rest and need to recover. Sometimes, what affects them is a neck issue or injury; the neck strongly affects vocal performance and clarity. There’s a direct relationship between neck pain and laryngeal mobility.”

Andrew talked about careful googling what’s wrong because it can’t personally diagnose you; if you’re injured, see a therapist. Therapists can diagnose what is happening to you. Invest in your body when things start happening; it could be an easy fix and prevent a significant injury.

This performing artist’s superhero has much more to share; listen to podcast episode 6, Injury and Performing Artists with Andrew Pilcher. Visit Andrew Pilcher on Instagram here

Listen to the full episode at the links above.

If you want to book a session with Andrew Pilcher online, email me here

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I'm Lara, creativity cheerleader! 

G'day from this Aussie dynamo turned London lass, who embraced the Mama life in Melbourne before embarking on life in Atlanta, USA. With qualifications in arts education, life coaching, singing, dancing, and acting, I've sprinkled two decades of experience into my wild ride as a career artist. Cheers to big dreams and even bigger adventures! 

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