Posts Tagged ‘Arts’

Arts health practitioners in focus: Massage Therapy

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Arts professionals and students are unlikely spend much time thinking about their health until something goes wrong. Yet they work in a tough industry and often push themselves to the limit. Problems can accumulate over days and years spent practising and performing. Taking care over physical and mental health is essential to sustainable performance practice and a successful career.

Sometimes things go wrong. A health problem or injury starts to affect your performance and you need help to beat it.

If you are a student or professional in the performing arts, a call to BAPAM’s Helpline can provide advice about where to get help for work-related health problems. You can arrange a free assessment at BAPAM with a doctor or clinician who will understand the demands of your career. You should always talk to your NHS GP as well – often excellent services are accessible by GP referral.

What if you are looking for independent expertise from a physical or psychological therapist? It is easy to be confused with the number of different therapies available. How do you go about finding a practitioner with the right experience and expertise?

BAPAM’s Directory of Practitioners lists information about high quality and accessible performing arts healthcare provided by skilled professionals working in a variety of modalities. In this series of posts, we’ll look at how these different kinds of practitioners can help you stay fit, overcome problems, and give your best performance. In this post, we look at a sometimes overlooked section of our Directory, Massage Therapy.

Massage Therapists work with the soft tissues – muscles, tendons & ligaments to apply pressure, manipulate and stretch them. Often these clinicians are termed Sports Massage, Holistic Massage or Sports and Remedial Massage practitioners.

You should check Massage Therapists are properly registered with the regulatory body, the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council, which means they are highly qualified. ITEC level 3 certificates are a good entry point into massage but for detailed knowledge of anatomy & physiology and more advanced methods of working, it is important that the therapist is qualified to diploma level or above.

We asked four BAPAM Registered Practitioners for their opinions on how arts specialist Massage Therapists can help you stay fit and give your best performance.

Rebekah Gilbert:

Rebekah Gilbert trained as a singer at the Royal Academy of Music and has sung as a concert soloist, recorded for EMI, BBC Radio, Classic FM and at Abbey Road Studios. She trained at the London School of Sports Massage and ITEC. She has a doctorate in coaching and is an Associate of Canterbury Christ Church University, working with Professor Stephen Clift on worldwide publications relating to singing and wellbeing.

“A good Massage Therapist will do a lot more than just ‘pummel’ you! First they will take a history of the issues you are consulting them on, your artistic practice and the time you put into it, lifestyle, exercise, the environments in which you work, and your medical history. If they discover anything that may need referral to another medical professional they will know when not to treat you.

Secondly, they will assess your posture as you stand and sit, the way a musician plays their instrument, and look at your walking gait. Is anything out of alignment? What are your posture habits and why? Might you need orthotics to improve how you stand and walk or just more supportive shoes?

Thirdly, they understand the difference between palpating well toned muscles and tense ones. Massage Therapists are good detectives, examining how you may have formed adhesions (knots), and can recommend changes necessary to reduce them in the future. The muscular skeletal system has an integral deep & superficial layer of facia running through it, which connects to every part of the body down to cellular level. Because of this, a Massage Therapist will know that a pain in one location may be triggered by problems in another and, within their toolkit of techniques, which will be most beneficial to apply.

Fourthly, they will have a long list of stretching exercises to give you as ‘homework’. However well a Massage Therapist can work in one hour, the time until your next appointment needs your input to make a difference. They may suggest other local practitioners such as Pilates, Feldenkrais, Yoga or Physical Training instructors to help you improve core strength and posture awareness. As a singer, I also know how beneficial optimal breathing techniques are in performance.”

Felicity Vincent:

Felicity Vincent is a professional cellist and a Pilates Instructor and Massage Therapist specialising in exercise for cellists. Felicity is an experienced active performing cellist and teacher with a deep understanding of how a player’s body might accumulate problems and how these might be solved. She has gone on to study Fascial Release with Anatomy Trains. Please check the BAPAM Directory for contact details. 

“Every string player knows their body isn’t just made up of levers (bones) and pulleys (muscles) but a controlled flow of circular and rotational movement. This is made possible by your fascia, the soft tissue of the body which is now known to be a strong, bouncy, stretchy, highly intelligent and trainable cell matrix which is everywhere, joining muscles to bones, allowing muscles to glide over each other, and through and over organs. But the fascial system is the site of countless numbers and types of nerve endings. These can respond to overuse and misuse which may be caused by imbalanced body use or holding onto emotions. Some degree of hypermobility can be an advantage in playing but is a double edged sword because stretchy tissue is particularly vulnerable to injury when overworked. On the massage couch your therapist will coax adhesions to dissolve and encourage held patterns to let go.

I see regular exercise as the principal key to health and wellbeing for every string player. I enjoy Pilates because it can be challenging and, particularly using the equipment, is a sophisticated way to balance the body and strengthen it. There are many schools of cello playing; the most important thing is that playing shouldn’t be destructive.”

Zoltan Zavody

As a musician (and martial artist) himself, Zoltan Zavody understands the range of injuries, impediments to joyful playing, and pain that can result from muscular imbalances.

“Anyone who trains their body intensively is more prone to soft tissue injuries – musicians sit in the same position for hours, make countless repetitive motions at speed, and then lug their instrument or box of scores to their next session. They are perfectionists who put themselves under intense scrutiny and thus stress. In the course of their careers, many musicians are likely to experience an injury requiring time off from performing.

The conditions sustained through the playing of music vary. Some seem relatively innocent, for example tightness and soreness in the left shoulder of a violin player. Others are more insidious, like the burning pain in the wrist of a guitarist. Still others are structural, like a lower back torsion in a pianist. Massage Therapy can generally help with all of these. And they can be interconnected.

Interestingly, through years of practise, it is not only the muscles that are habituated to playing. The connective tissue, the fascia that surround the muscles, also adapt. Research shows that this connective tissue morphs, slides, and grips according to habitual movements. So a musician may end up with managing to relax their ‘playing muscles’, but unless it is released, the tissue enveloping these muscles continues to pull their body and limbs into a specific posture, like a skewed bodysuit. The person is relaxed, yet they still feel a tightness, a pull, a misalignment. This is where a Massage Therapist can help with a range of myofascial techniques; softening, stretching, and pulling the connective tissues, the bodysuit, into comfortable alignment.

Myofascial work is not all about injury and problems! All of us inevitably have muscles and tissues that are a little stuck, whether from old injuries or emotional holding or underuse, and we don’t even notice. Take a singer for example, who has no complaints but wishes to improve the smoothness of their sound. By working fascially through the diaphragm and along the ribs, a Massage Therapist can help release these areas, leading to greater lung capacity and breath control, and an easier, more joyful singing experience. We have essentially freed up the bellows – and who wouldn’t want that?

If musicians were sportspeople, they would have ‘pitch-side’ Massage Therapists and coaches to help them fulfil their potential and make life a little bit easier.”

James Wellington

James Wellington is a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and Sports Massage Therapist who works extensively with circus performers and other artists. He Lectures nationally and internationally in the fields of physiotherapy, injury prevention & performance enhancement and conducts research in evidence based practice.

“Using sports massage within clinical practice is hugely beneficial, as evidenced by the hundreds of satisfied performers that receive and rave about it. However, there are few well controlled studies into its clinical efficacy.

The speculated effects are biomechanical (improved joint range of motion, reduced stiffness and tissue adherence), physiological (reduced stress hormones, improved blood flow and parasympathetic activity), neurological (less pain and muscle tension), and psychological (reduced anxiety and improved relaxation).

Let’s be honest. It does feel therapeutic getting a sports massage (depending on the pressure being applied of course). It’s my conviction, however, that its benefits rely most heavily on therapist experience and their choice of technique.

If you’re lucky enough to find a sports massage therapist that has a broad set of massage skills, the ability to clinically reason and be able to justify every technique they use – you’re way more likely to see positive results. Personally, I find it hugely beneficial in improving joint range, reducing muscle tension, decreasing pain and decreasing injury-potential factors.

My top tips for performing artists thinking about getting a Sports Massage:

1. Think about the reason(s) you want to book a Sports Massage (post-training soreness / poor flexibility / repetitive strain injury / accumulated muscle tension / a pampering treat?) and communicate this to the therapist (this will assist in selecting appropriate depth of pressure and duration of treatment).

2. Tell the therapist if you specifically intend for the Sports Massage to improve your performance and/or recovery as this may also determine the type of techniques they use.

3. Timing of the massage is important. If in doubt, ask the therapist before booking what is the most appropriate.”

BAPAM Director Appointed

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

We are delighted to welcome our new Director, Claire Cordeaux

Having started her career as a youth and community worker over 30 years ago, Claire Cordeaux has worked in the private and voluntary sectors, social care and the NHS, covering early years and children’s services, workforce development, health strategy, research and innovation at international, regional and local levels. In addition to a language degree, Claire holds a Masters in Research and Postgraduate Diplomas in Public Sector Management and Youth and Community work. Prior to her current role, Claire was Healthcare Director of SIMUL8 Corporation, working globally to improve healthcare using computer modelling and simulation. Claire is an active musician in a Celtic folk fusion band, and has supported a number of arts initiatives and festivals from youth music projects to running a boat stage to connect performers in coastal areas.  Now Director of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, Claire counts herself as very lucky to have a role which combines her two passions of health improvement and performing arts.

Psychosocial Practitioners Peer Supervision Group

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

BAPAM is pleased to support the establishment of a new Peer Supervision Group for psychosocial practitioners who work with performing arts clients.

The group, whose inaugural meetings took place earlier this year, hope to open up the conversation between performing arts and psychological practice. The aim is to foster a network for counselling, coaching and psychology practitioners working frontline with performance artists for interactive exploration, mutual consultation and support on professional practice issues, and for reflection on what constitutes best practice in working with performers, as well as to share specialist expertise, guidance and information according to a professional framework of rigorous evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence in the field.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on December 9th, and thereafter every two months on Saturdays from 12 to 1:30 pm at the London Natural Health Centre, 46 Theobalds Road, NW1 8NW.

Practitioners interested in finding out more or joining the group are invited to contact Dr Jane Oakland by email: jane.oakland@btinternet.com

Psychiatrist Recruitment

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Mental health in the arts has become an increasingly high profile issue in recent years. In partnership with performer support organisations such as Help Musicians UK and Equity, BAPAM is uniquely well placed to provide mental health advisory services to arts workers. We are looking for psychiatrists with an interest in performing arts clients to assess and advise clients with psychosocial concerns in our clinics. This is will include making recommendations for appropriate treatment and therapy, including to specific individual practitioners and services, both private and NHS, and working with the BAPAM team to ensure accessible options are explored for people in a wide variety of employment and financial circumstances. We benefit from a fascinating and highly motivated client group, excellent peer support and networking, plus access to unique training and clinical experience. Flexible working arrangements can be agreed on a voluntary basis, with an honorarium of £50 per hour available for clinical work.

If you’re a psychiatrist interested in getting involved with charity work in the performing arts, or can help us spread the word please contact us by email or phone.

Tel: 020 7404 8444
E: info@bapam.org.uk

Alpha Actors Run for BAPAM

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Thank you very much David, Anah, Lindon, Jessica, Patsy and Adam of Alpha Actors who are fundraising for BAPAM with a 10k run through London’s Olympic Park on September 16.

Alpha Actors are supporting the fantastic work that BAPAM does helping people working in the arts overcome injuries and health problems. Adam experienced first hand back in 2015, through injury to his knee, how brilliant they are. BAPAM’s expert orthopaedic consultant gave him a second opinion assessment and a report for his GP and surgeon which helped speed along the timeline of keyhole surgery. The service was invaluable and became a beacon of light during a challenging physical and mental period.  

If you’d like to support the runners and help us continue providing our essential performing arts health service – please donate here.

International Conference on Performing Arts Medicine (ICPAM) 2018

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

BAPAM is pleased to be taking part in the forthcoming ICPAM Conference, which will be held 29 – 31 March 2018 in the Hague. Initiated by the Hague Medical Centre and Dutch Performing Arts Medicine Association, the conference brings an international perspective to both music and dance medicine. Collaborators include ASPAH, BAPAM, CeiMArs, CND,  DGfMM, DHF, IADMS, Médecine des Arts, ÖGfMM, PAMA, NIDMS, SMM, tamed and UNISA.

Intending to share state of the art medical scientific knowledge on the topics of dance, music, voice, hearing and mind, the organisers now welcome abstracts for oral presentations as well as poster presentations.

Abstract deadline extended t0 December 1st, 2017 23:59 CET

You can find out more and submit an abstract for ICPAM 2018 here.

Registration for the conference will open soon.

BAPAM is Recruiting a Full Time Director

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) is a unique medical charity providing health advice and support to members of the performing arts community. We provide a national Helpline and confidential clinical consultations for performers experiencing performance-related health problems, as well as education and resources on healthy performance practice and professional training in performing arts medicine.

About the role

Following the planned retirement this year of our current chief executive, BAPAM seeks a leader to take the charity forward over what promises to be an exciting new period of ambitious growth in partnership with our principal funder, Help Musicians UK. The role involves strategic and operational leadership of the organisation, including management of a small team of administrative staff and a clinical workforce comprising of voluntary and healthcare professionals working throughout the UK.

For this role we’re looking for someone who is a strong leader, someone who has the ability to innovate and offer creative solutions, whilst thinking strategically. The successful candidate will be passionate about the performing arts and have the ability to be flexible and adaptable whilst displaying personal integrity and high standards of work.

Click here for further information and to apply.

The closing date for applications is Friday 5th August 2017.

Health Education in the Arts Survey

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Researcher, Lisa Brachfeld, from the MSc Performing Arts Medicine programme at University College London, invites musicians, dancers, actors, and singers who are professionals or students/teachers at accredited conservatoires to participate in a new study of health education in the performing arts. The aim is to prove that performers could benefit from more health and injury prevention education. Learning about attitudes towards this subject will help to improve the effectiveness of education curriculums.

Take the survey here

Actor Bob Cryer Walks 100 Miles for BAPAM (and Werner Herzog)

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Thanks very much to actor and writer Bob Cryer, who is about to walk 100 miles and donate funds raised to BAPAM.

You can read more about just why Bob is walking 100 miles (at the behest of film director Werner Herzog no less), and help us help performers beat work-related health problems here: Bob’s Herzog 100 Mile Walk

“I walk for several reasons, but chief among them has become the positive effect it’s had on my mental health. Life as an actor and writer can be incredibly rewarding and I consider myself very lucky to be able to spend my days pursuing a career in the arts, but it’s vagaries can often render you confused, stressed and isolated. Walking can help clear the mind and gain some perspective. On the whole, I feel like I’ve been spared some of the darker spirals that can take hold during a bout of black dog, but many others are not so fortunate.

A career in the arts, which is so reliant on self evaluation, self expression and self examination, can place a more targeted kind of burden on a person’s mental health. And when you consider that one in four people in the UK will experience mental health issues at some point their life, then consider what the effects are on those in the performing arts.

Yes, the highs are incredible but the lows are indelible”

The Foundations of Good Mental Health

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2017,  BAPAM Registered psychologist and performance coach Dr Carol Chapman, writes for Spotlight with essential tips for actors (and all performers) on building good mental health and resilience.

Read the article here