By Maggie Rivers for Tom Tom Magazine
Beating out fast and complicated maneuvers, drummers are often acclaimed for being quick with the sticks, but recent studies have also shown that these “athletes of the music industry” also require extraordinary strength and endurance when performing.
Studies done with the Clem Burke Drumming Project show that drummers’ physical activity is comparable or greater than that of football players, especially when considering the amount of shows played versus games played, as well as the physical demands of setting up and moving gear. The Clem Burke Drumming Project is dedicated to research and distribution of information on the benefits of drumming. Clem Burke, founder of the project and drummer of Blondie, famous for its hit, “Heart of Glass,” volunteered himself for case studies related with the project.
“I’d have to say [the biggest physical challenge is] the actual carrying and hauling of equipment… When you’re playing night after night, loading in and out, setting up, and breaking down over and over again it gets a little tedious and tiring. At the same time, my band did about six weeks of touring this past spring and I think we all felt a lot stronger physically by the end of it,” said Heliotropes drummer, Cici Harrison.
Because of the physical strain drumming presents, many drummers warm up their muscles before playing. It’s not only about being about being able to bang sticks; breathing, posture, and hydration are all important to performing well too. Some of the most common drumming injuries are tendonitis, lower back pain, and carpal tunnel.
There are even some websites dedicated to educating drummers on how to keep themselves healthy while drumming, such as www.drummershealth.com. Founded by Dan Buch, a drummer and chiropractor, the website features tips, exercises, and injury treatment to help drummers perform safely.
The fitness associated with drumming has become so popular, that many have begun to take up drumming for the purpose of personal fitness. Gyms across the country have also picked up classes that feature drumsticks which are banged on exercise balls or the floor. Drumming has also been found to have therapeutic effects such as stress relief and has been incorporated in low intensity workout classes made for children and the elderly.
For those who would like to drum, whether it is for fun or fitness, Harrison suggests running to build up endurance. If running does not suit your fancy, Harrison reminds, “there is always Prancercising.”