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How to Prevent Drumming Injuries

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Unfortunately musicians are prone to a few different types of injuries. The repetitive movements can get to you after a while if you’re not careful.

And it’s especially the case for drummers, who use their entire bodies to play their instrument.

So in this article we’ll talk about how to prevent drumming injuries and what to do when you suspect something is up. 

Please note Deviant Noise is NOT a medical site, nor are we medical professionals. None of the content in this article should be considered medical advice, but rather merely informational/educational content. Please talk to a doctor if you have questions about injuries.

If you’re brand new to drumming, first check out our beginner’s guide on how to play drums first. It’s got a lot of information on proper technique, which is very helpful in preventing injury.

Ok, let’s get into it…

Common Drumming Injuries

So, what do drummers specifically have to worry about?

Since drumming is a full body “sport” there’s a bunch of different things that can happen. Some are worse than others, but all should try to be avoided as much as possible.

Always remember, if you’re feeling any pain in any part of your body, make sure you rest until you recover at the very least and consider seeing a doctor.



Tendinitis and Carpal Tunnel

These two conditions are the most common injuries among drummers. These are usually referred to as PRMDs (playing-related musculoskeletal disorders) – a fancy way to say, well… injury, I guess.

Tendonitis is when your tendon’s get inflamed and can happen anywhere in the body. Often a person will experience pain in the area when they move it around or touch it. There can also be some swelling.

Carpal tunnel is a condition related to compressed nerves in the wrist. One may feel a burning/tingling/itching or numbness in the palm/fingers.

The most common places these tend to show up for drummers is in their wrists and elbows. Taking breaks, proper technique/posture and a good stretching routine can help mitigate problems.

If you suspect you have a PRMD, you should see a doctor right away.

Finger Aches

Finger aches or soreness can happen from gripping your sticks too tightly or using improper grip. It’s a common thing that can happen if you’re neglecting good stick technique.

Try not to hold a stick too tight and try switching up your grip to keep things moving in different ways.


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Forearm Pain and Elbow Tension

This is another common injury that happens due to improper sticking technique. If you use your forearm to provide power to the drum stick movement it can cause pain over time.

Further, if you’re using your elbow to give movement to the stick, it can lead to serious problems as well.

You should be using your fingers and wrists to provide the bulk of the power and movement to your stick. Your elbow should be loose and relaxed.

Back Aches

Back aches are another common pitfall among drummers due to bad technique. This is all about the posture you have while sitting on your drum throne, in front of the kit.

If you’re slouching while playing, you can expect some pain in your lower back and potentially shoulders. So make sure you’re sitting straight up as if there’s a string attached to the top of your head and pulling it towards the ceiling.

Neck/Shoulder Tension

Neck and shoulder problems can often result from both bad technique and bad posture. If you’re slouching, you might start to experience issues with your shoulders.

If your shoulders are tense or lifted, that can also lead to pain/tension in your neck. If you’re straining to look at sheet music, that can also lead to neck issues while playing.

Try your best to sit up straight, with your shoulders back and neck relaxed.


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Leg and Foot Pain

And finally another common area of injury for drummers is in the legs and feet. However you choose to pedal (heel up or heel down) you may start to feel tension or pain in your upper or lower leg.

Foot pain can result from pedalling as well, and is likely similar to wrist strain.

Your legs should be slightly above a 90 degree angle when you’re playing a drum kit. Proper positioning and making sure you’re able to pedal comfortably can help you prevent any injury here.

Avoiding Injuries Before They Happen

The best way to deal with drumming injuries is to avoid them in the first place. Now, sometimes that is impossible, and no matter how great you play you end up with some pain.

Let’s talk about some ways to prevent injuries from drumming before they happen.

Focus on Technique

The first and most obviously thing to think about is perfecting your drum playing technique. This is everything from posture to grip, pedalling, stick movement and everything else involved in playing a drum set.

Every time you practice, you should be a stickler for proper technique and posture. If you catch yourself slipping, immediately get back to a better posture or a better playing technique.

Changing Up Grip or Positioning

Another way to help alleviate strain when playing is to try changing up either your stick grip of your position relative to the drum kit.

Try switching between traditional grip and french grip if you can while you’re playing a set. If you’re starting to feel tension in any area of your body, move close or further away from the kit for a bit. Adjust your seat, etc.

Many of the playing-related injuries happen because of repetitive movements. So if you can adjust the way you move every now and then you may engage each muscle in a different way and hopefully prevent injury.

Warm Ups / Cool Downs + Stretching

It’s important that you treat this like an athletic endeavor. Even though we’re not playing sports here, being a drummer is an extremely athletic and intense activity. You’re using your entire body constantly.

So when you’re practicing or playing a live gig make sure you implement warm ups and cool downs to get every part of your body moving a bit before going all out on the kit.

And you should be stretching all of your muscles involved in drumming both before and after you play.

It may be annoying but this stuff goes a long way to preventing injury. It doesn’t have to be long – 5 minutes on each end can work wonders.

Strength and Mobility Training

Finally, consider starting some strength and mobility training. The stronger you are, the less prone you are to injury. And if you work on your mobility (via things like stretching, yoga, etc) you’ll be able to use your body in various ways without injuring yourself easily.

You don’t have to hit the gym 7 days a week, but consider some bodyweight stuff and yoga at home a few times a week.

Trust me, strength and mobility are HUGE for humans in general, and especially musicians.


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Injury Recovery

So what can you do if you’ve already succumbed to an injury while drumming?

The first thing you should do if you suspect an injury is to talk to a medical professional like a doctor to get a proper diagnosis of what’s wrong.

But outside of that, you need to rest and let your body recover. Oftentimes, just giving yourself and your body time to heal can be enough.

You may need to stop drumming for a while, otherwise you may aggravate any injuries that you have.

Massage/Physio

A general doctor can give you a diagnosis of what’s wrong, but the treatment will likely be several rounds of physiotherapy. And you don’t need a doctor’s referral to start seeing a physiotherapist in most cases.

Going to physiotherapy will give you a structured way of dealing with your injury and recovering the movement/function you had.

It can honestly be a game changer – especially when it comes to things like back pain.

Massage therapy can also be helpful in recovery and even in preventing injury. Massage will help your body (including your tendons and muscles and joints) relax.

If you’ve ever been drumming intensely for a long period of time, a good massage from an RMT can work wonders on how you feel the next day. Try it out


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Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, injury can be common amongst all kinds of musicians. But drummers are especially susceptible because of the intensity their instrument requires of them.

So it’s important that you take steps to prevent injuries wherever possible. Focus on your technique and posture – that will save a lot of headache. 

Remember to rest if you feel any strain or pain, and if you suspect an injury see a doctor or physiotherapist.

Being mindful of how your body works (and how you’re working your body) is a must if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with music.

If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

Thanks for reading this post on preventing drumming injuries. I hope you found it helpful.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.