Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians (and normal people)

Filtering by Tag: jill miller

Giveaway Announcement!

In honor of the holidays, in which most musicians are running around playing holiday marathons, Nutcrackers galore, sing-alongs, musicals, and everything in between, I present the self-care giveaway!  Most of you know that I'm a Yoga Tune Up® teacher, and that part of that work is self-care, AKA. self-massage with pliable rubber balls that get into the nooks and crannies of your pain and discomfort, whether that be in your neck or upper back, or hips, feet, and everything in between!  Self-massage has made a huge difference in my ability to play for long periods of time without pain as well as improved my mobility in many key joint areas.   I'm excited to offer one copy of Jill Miller's book, The Roll Model®, as well as a set of Roll Model Classic Size Balls.  (In the event that the winner already has a set of this sized balls, I will gladly substitute another size, either Pluses or an alpha.)   This book is incredibly comprehensive, detailed, and has a plethora of sequences for everything from neck and jaw pain to feet and ankle mobility.  The set is valued at $50 and I'll ship it anywhere in the world, as a thanks to my national and international readers.  To enter, visit our Facebook page, and you'll see a tab labeled giveaway, which will tell you how to enter.  It's pretty easy, and doesn't require you to sign up for an email list (I already get 20-30 spam emails a day).  If you have questions, shoot an email to, and I'll reply as soon as possible.

What is Body Mapping?

Last month, we talked about  multiple intelligences,  including  kinesthetic intelligence. 

Last month, we talked about multiple intelligences, including kinesthetic intelligence. 

You may have heard the word "bodymapping" before, but perhaps have not known what exactly it's referring to.  Many different disciplines make use of the concept- body work, movement practices, medical professionals, etc.  So what is it?

One of my teachers, Jill Miller, defined what she calls an "embodymap"  as "defining the inner landscape of one's body through keen self-perception" (i.e., you are constantly feeling and embodying your bodily self-awareness).

It combines kinesthetic awareness with proprioception (your ability to sense your body in space).  Most musicians have very specialized kinesthetic awareness and heightened proprioceptive awareness in fingers, hands, arms, mouth, jaw, head, etc., but often lacking in other areas, perhaps postural muscles, spinal, hips, feet, etc. 

Steve Haines, a bodyworker in biodynamic craniosacral work (long name!), said in an interview this week:

"Our brain has many series and layers of body maps. You use different maps at different times- skiing vs. sitting on the couch...a body schema is a sort of default map that governs reflexes and actions." 

Imagine that your body has a series of different maps related to different activities- a map for how to run vs. a map for how to hold a violin vs. a map for how to stand.  It's an interesting thought! 

I've seen many books about body mapping for musicians- but what exactly is body mapping?

I've seen many books about body mapping for musicians- but what exactly is body mapping?

Our biggest enemy in enhancing our body mapping skills is pain- pain causes dissociation, and usually causes less feedback and awareness in tissues.  Think of places you've injured- you may have lost sensation in that area, and instead replaced it with a dull sense of perpetual pain or dissociation.  In my own body, I've certainly found that to be true.  In addition, a misinformed body map can cause us to move in ways that are not helpful, whether in music or in daily life. 

Lastly, how do we change or enhace our body maps? 

1.  Move in more varied ways in day to day life.  Sit less often.  Stand, walk, and notice sensations in the body.  Stand and sit in slightly different ways and notice how things feel.  (This can also make a particularly slow class/ensemble rehearsal infinitely more engaging...)

2.  Take classes in different disciplines.  Instead of running (or yoga-ing or spinning) always, mix it up.  Go to something totally different and see what you learn.  I remember going to a hip hop dance class, and being terrible at it, but also learning about weaknesses in my own body.

Body awareness also affects body image.  Many psychiatric programs use elements of body mapping to address image after illness, disease, trauma, etc.  If you've ever had a performance injury, you know that your sense of self takes a toll.

Body awareness also affects body image.  Many psychiatric programs use elements of body mapping to address image after illness, disease, trauma, etc.  If you've ever had a performance injury, you know that your sense of self takes a toll.

3.  Get bodywork when you can, and work with someone who will tell you specifics about your body.  If you find tender spots, ask them what the muscle group is and it's action.  How can you affect change in that area with movement change?

Bodymapping is an incredibly useful tool for musicians, not only in helping your students expand their own awareness, but changing your own relationship with your own instrument and body.  It's essential in injury recovery, and can be a useful tool in changing unhealthy movement patterns.

*Andover Educators is a system of teaching bodymapping specifically for musicians.  Many of its teachers are also in other disciplines of movement, whether AT, Feldenkrais, etc.  They have a very useful website with a terrific resource page of books and articles.  Just remember that you can explore bodymapping through many different channels, especially if you don't live near a teacher or practitioner.*

Resources For the Mamas to be, and New Mamas

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a prenatal or post-partum movement specialist.  I do however, get to work with clients and friends who are prenatal or post-partum, and there are tons of excellent resources out there that have nothing to do with diet, birth plan, or parenting decisions.  Musicians mamas often work all the way up to birth, and sometimes start playing within weeks of birth.  Thus, the issues that mamas and mamas to be face as working musicians can be challenging: back pain, acid reflex, PFD...all of these can hamper your ability to breathe well, play your instrument, and sit well.    Here's a few of my favorite resources for women:

Image courtesy of:

Image courtesy of:


Posture for Pregnancy and Beyond!    Pregnancy is often a time of back pain, hip pain, and general musculoskeletal pangs.  Look at how you move to support your growing belly!

Prenatal Exercise that Soothes Pregnancy Symptoms.  Jill Miller writes about a series of different movements and restoratives that can aid in common pregnancy woes including heartburn and back pain.

Pregnant Women Have No Fear: Everything You Should Know About Prenatal Yoga - Prenatal yoga often is a prop-filled playground of hanging out on bolsters and relaxing...but what about gaining strength as your body produces relaxacin? (A hormone loosening up your joints, ligaments, etc.)  There's incredible value with strengthening and moving during pregnancy, rather than couch surfing, especially because once the baby's out, you'll be carrying that child/ren with you everywhere.  While your joints are becoming unstable, consider a combination of restoratives with strength-building actions to support your own body and your new child's.

Aligning or Relaxin?  Katy Bowman looks at what relaxin does (it doesn't stretch muscles!) before birth.

And here are Katy's pre-natal training tips:

  • Get out of positive-heeled shoes.  It will make all the difference in the world!  (Aka.  Wear flats, ASAP!)
  • Squat, a few times every day. See Squat Blog:
  • If your body is already too damaged to squat, follow the more basic, non-squat exercises until you are strong enough to handle the full range of motion.
  • Walk, walk, walk.  Work up to 5 miles a day, if possible, broken up throughout the day if needed.
  • Minimize sitting in chairs and change up your sitting postures often.
  • Find your Transverse Abdominals and see if you can fire them. See TVA Blog:
  • Stop tucking your pelvis, right now.  In fact, stick your butt out while you’re reading this.


New Mamas?

Diastasis Recti: Do you know what it is?  Do you have it?  Here's Katy Bowman's definition: A musculoskeletal injury, where the rectus abdominus tears at the connective tissue, separating it from the linea alba – a collagen cord that runs from the bottom of your sternum to the front of your pelvis.   What that basically means is that your rectus abdominus (your six pack muscle) separates from your pelvis, where it attaches.  This is often a post-partum woe, but is often a result of misalignment in standing and walking, as well as a lifetime of wearing heeled shoes and tucking the pelvis.  What that also means is that all the situps in the world won't help you and that you need to tackle this particular problem before you go crazy trying to "get your body back."  You have to reintegrate your core (and get things where they belong!) and inCOREporate first!  Read Katy's blog about alignment as well!

Image courtesy of MUTU and Wendy Powell.

Image courtesy of MUTU and Wendy Powell.


PFD: Pelvis Floor Dysfunction.  This is another biggie issue affecting the Post-partum ladies, and the blanket solution is often kegel, kegel, kegel!  This is a way more complicated issue with the musculature of the pelvic floor not supporting urinary and evacuation functions of the body, as well as many other issues.  There can be bladder issues, bowel issues, pelvic pain, hernias, and more, so do some reading before you kegel till the cows come home.

Women's Only: No Peeing With Double Unders.  Even if you're a BC (before child) woman, incontinence can be a big issue with high intensity workouts, whether that be crossfit, running, triathalons, etc.  Learn how to support healthy PF muscles in your daily life, and how to stop workout incontinence.

Super Kegel! By Katy Bowman

Kegel Queen by Katy Bowman

Pelvic Floor Party: Kegels Not Invited

And Just some general blogs, MamaSweat and Wendy Powell (MUTU) have some good thoughts as well.  MUTU addresses both PFD and Diastasis Recti, and she has great resources on her site.


Powered by Squarespace. Home background image by kayleigh miller.