SOPP677: Did you have problems with your back due to organ playing, or do you know other people that had the same problem?
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let’s start episode 677 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Miguel, and he is in our Total Organist community plus he takes private lessons with me, and one time he wrote this message:
“My back was quite painful, but now I'm fully recovered and practicing again. Part of the problem was sitting for too long, apart from the 8 hours a day I sit for my computer work at the bank. I sit an hour or two on a bench with no back support. The physio also told me that the movements of the legs on the pedals have a toll on the spine.
So, I've been reintroducing walking that I haven't done for quite a while and also using my height adjustable desk for standing as well as sitting, at least during working hours.
Did you have problems with your back due to organ playing, or do you know other people that had the same problem?”
Vidas: Ausra, do you know some people?
Ausra: Yes, it’s myself, actually.
Vidas: I see. Tell us about it?
Ausra: Well, in general, I think, the organ is a very unfortunate instrument for our backs, because sitting without support in our feet since we have to play pedals, it’s not healthy for your back. But in general, I think that sitting work, as for example Miguel works at the bank and sits at the computer all day long is bad for your back. So what we can do, actually, is to exercise and strengthen our back.
Vidas: Walking is, of course, one useful exercise.
Ausra: Yes, but also you need to do some other extra…
Vidas: Specific Exercises.
Ausra: Specific exercises, yes. Well, actually, the easiest is to lie down on your stomach and you need to stretch both your arms and both your legs, and then simultaneously you need to lift up the right arm and left foot at the same time, and then to do just the opposite, and just repeat it slowly a few times.
Vidas: Lift right arm, left foot, and then left arm, right foot.
Ausra: Yes, this is sort of one of the classical Pilates exercises that really strengthens the back.
Vidas: Is it difficult?
Ausra: Well, at the beginning it might be a little bit difficult but later on, no, it’s not.
Vidas: Can you hurt your back while doing so?
Ausra: I don’t think so.
Vidas: Unless you do it very quickly.
Vidas: It has to be done slowly.
Ausra: Yes. The slower, the better, actually, because it’s not so easy to do it slowly. You have to work with the muscles more. Well, what else could help? Actually swimming is quite good, too, and other exercises with a big Pilates ball is also good.
Vidas: Nice. We have that ball.
Ausra: Yes, but we don’t exercise. Yes?
Vidas: We need to do it.
Ausra: Yes. Of course, if you have enough funds, the massages are very helpful for back to strengthen the back muscles. What else could help, too, for example, I have sort of like a rag,
Vidas: A rug?
Ausra: Yes, like a rug with needles. I know it sounds painful, and it is painful, but actually now I spend half an hour every day lying down on those needles.
Vidas: And it helps blood circulation, probably?
Ausra: Yes, and it helps my spine in general. It’s very painful for the first five to ten minutes, but then it gets easier and actually quite comfortable. And it really improves the condition of my back and my arms.
Vidas: You get this warm feeling in your spine.
Ausra: Yes, because it releases all the muscle tension, so it’s really good.
Vidas: It’s like a natural massage.
Vidas: Without any extra help.
Ausra: Yes, but you know, you have to endure some pain at the beginning. Maybe not everybody could do that, but you know, if your back really hurts, then it’s a good thing for you.
Vidas: Yeah, I’m sure Miguel and others can find the product that you are using online, probably.
Ausra: Probably, yes.
Vidas: There are probably various versions of it.
Ausra: Yes. Mine came from Ukraine, so…
Ausra: Yes. But it was maybe ten years back, so now I think they have more modern things to sell.
Vidas: Excellent. So yeah, in today’s lifestyle when a lot of people sit at the desk, especially in front of the computer for eight hours a day, it’s getting very, very important to move extra and do some extra exercises to take care of our bodies. Right?
Ausra: Yes. Some people do Yoga, for example. Yoga doesn’t work for me, but it might work for Miguel. I don’t know.
Vidas: You say Pilates would work. Right?
Vidas: It’s different.
Ausra: Yes, it’s different, because what Pilates does, it strengthens the inner muscles, and what Yoga does is actually more makes your body flexible.
Vidas: But in those two exercise systems, breathing is also important. Right?
Ausra: Sure! It’s important in any physical activities. And so the breathing is important in playing, as well.
Vidas: Oh, what do you mean? You need to remind yourself to breath?
Vidas: While playing the organ?
Ausra: Yes. Many people don’t breath enough while playing.
Vidas: Meaning that they breath less often than they should, or their breathing is too shallow?
Ausra: Both, actually.
Vidas: Interesting. I find sometimes that having regular places to breath in a pieces is nice if you find, like, at the beginning of every four bar phrase, if that pulse and meter allows, it could be quite regular then.
Ausra: Sure, but if the tempo is Grave, then you might get in trouble breathing only after each four measures.
Vidas: No, no! You calculate for yourself, of course, what’s comfortable for you, and it has to be piece-specific. Right?
Vidas: Alright guys, various things to think about. We hope this was useful to you. This was Vidas,
Ausra: And Ausra!
Vidas: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
Ausra: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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