AIMS: Though ergonomic supports are widely used for many groups of instruments, they are rare for brass instruments, despite the instruments' considerable weight. Musculoskeletal injury and postural problems are common among this group, and so, both adult and young players are likely to benefit from supports that reduce the load placed on the body. This study assessed the effects on postural muscle activity of a recently developed range of supports (Ergobrass) that use a rod to transfer the weight of the instrument to a harness or to the chair or floor.
METHODS: Twenty conservatoire students (mean age [SD], 20.9 ± 0.5 yrs) of the trumpet, french horn, or trombone used the supports while playing short brass studies, either sitting or standing. Surface electromyography recordings were made from key postural muscles, and their activity levels were compared with and without the support.
RESULTS: Statistically significant reductions (typically 15-30%) were present in many of the muscles when using the supports, though in some players they were much larger. The number of muscles affected was least with the lightest instruments (the trumpet), with the effects mainly in the left deltoid and trapezius muscles. Reductions for the horn were bilateral, principally in biceps, pectoralis major, and deltoid; while in the trombone, they were confined to the left side (pectoralis major, posterior deltoid, and trapezius), as the right arm is in constant use to move the slide.
CONCLUSIONS: The supports are effective in reducing postural muscle activity and may be of particular benefit to injured or young players.
- Adaptation, Physiological
- Biomechanical Phenomena
- Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
- Musculoskeletal Diseases/physiopathology
- Occupational Diseases/physiopathology
- Upper Extremity/physiology
- Young Adult