Examining Biomechanical Correlates to Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Professional Guitarists


Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) are painful conditions that may hinder musicians’ ability to play their instruments, affecting them financially, emotionally, and physically (Kenny & Ackermann, 2015; Zaza et al.,1998). Biomechanical risk factors associated with occupational health disorders include repetitive anatomical movements (Candia et al., 2006), excessive force exerted on the upper-body (Chiang et al., 1993), awkward postures (Blanco et al., 2017), and inefficient muscular contraction patterns while playing (Horisawa, 2013). Despite the high prevalence of PRMDs in guitarists, research on biomechanical correlates of PRMDs is limited (Fjellman-Wiklund & Chesky, 2006). Previous research also suggests that biological females experience significantly greater rates of PRMDs than biological males (Ajidahun et al., 2017; Baadjou et al., 2016; Kok et al., 2018; Ranelli et al., 2011), yet little research investigates why this disparity exists. Therefore, the present research aims to investigate potential mechanisms underlying PRMDs in guitarists and this sex-based disparity. Participants will answer a modified Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ; Kuorinka et al., 1987) to assess the presence, location, and frequency of PRMD pain. We will utilize the combination of a novel force-measuring guitar, Vicon motion capture system, and electromyography to compare finger force and torque, posture, muscular activation and co-contraction, and variability in playing technique between male and female guitarists with and without symptoms of PRMDs. We hypothesize that biological females and those with PRMDs will exert higher finger contact forces and joint torques, more joint torques in unnatural anatomical positions, greater muscle co-activation, and decreased variability in contact forces and joint torques.