Lower back pain is a common ailment that many drummers face. In fact, our backs are one of the most overlooked part of our bodies.
Let’s answer some of the common question on lower back pain in drummers:
Is drumming bad for your back?
With correct posture and some body conditioning, drumming should not be bad for your back.
Although we do not drum directly with our backs, think about it. Your back is required to keep your upper body upright, your lower back is also highly involved in the twisting of your upper body. If you’re on the drum kit for hours, its really little wonder why your lower back hurts.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Here’re three common causes:
Why does my back hurt after playing drums?
There are three common issues that lead to lower back pain (and back pain in general) for drummers:
- Your Throne
- Lack of core muscle strength
You should see a drastic improvement if you could at least tweak the first 2 issues. If your back pain persists, do seek medical help, I’m no medical professional but most cases of back pain faced by drummers are due to these simple issues.
Here’s how you can tweak them:
How do I reduce lower back pain after drumming?
If your back hurts after playing the drums, here’re 4 quick solutions to try:
1. Fix your Posture
The most common cause of back pain in drummers is their posture.
Check your throne height
You should be seated with both feet resting on the ground casually, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.
Having your seat adjusted too low can put a strain on your lower back over time. Modern Drummer Hall of Famer, Vinnie Colaiuta had shared his experience of back pain due to seating too low in this interview.
Check the height of your drum kit
Another key cause of bad posture is the height of your drum kit set up.
For a start, make sure that your snare drums are about an inch or two below your belly button level, so that you are not slouching when you’re playing on the snare.
If you’re practicing on a practice pad, then follow this:
Adjust the rest of your drum kit with the focus of being able to play while keeping your back straight.
Sit up straight!
Guess what? Mom was right.
Sit up straight when you’re drumming – your shoulders should be in line with your hips. But remember to keep your back slightly relaxed so that you can twist your upper body naturally.
While paying attention to your posture, it is natural to end up tensing up your shoulders and neck which could lead to pain in those areas.
Hence, while you are at it, also make sure that your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Its natural to tense up unconsciously when you are testing out a new posture. However all it takes is a little more awareness to rectify these small habits for a painless experience on the drums.
2. Get a good drum throne
If you’re gigging or practicing for long sessions, you’d be spending all that time on your butt. Having a good drum throne helps to keep your body balanced as you move around the drum kit.
As you start drumming especially when both feet are in motion, you’ll notice that most of your body weight will be supported by your bump and lower back. Most stock drum thrones are poorly made or made for kids – they either don’t provide a good range of height or
When looking for good drum thrones, you’ll want something with:
- thick, firm cushion that supports your weight,
- spins smoothly so that it responses as you move around the drum kit,
- but still has a strong, sturdy support – you don’t want your drum throne to be wobbling while you’re drumming,
- (optional) has a channel in the middle that allows your tail bone to ‘float’ (if you’re struggling with pain on the tail bone, this is crucial.)
If you tend to slouch habitually, get a drum throne with a back rest. Seating with your back against the back rest will help you maintain your posture.
You should check if your local music store allows you to test any of the drum thrones if you are unsure, or purchase the throne from a trusted source that comes with a flexible return policy in case you change your mind.
3. Warm Up
Looking forward to a good, long drumming session? Getting some simple stretches in before you hit the drums could go a long way.
Some simple warm up stretches for drummers include:
World’s Greatest Stretch
If you want one stretch to cover all the major muscle groups, do this:
The world’s greatest stretch is named as such because it is useful beyond just drumming. You can use the same stretch before exercising or a jog too. #lifehacks!
It takes only about 2 minutes, but if you are short on time, just do any of the following:
Lumbar flexion Stretch
Sit with your feet crossed, reach your arms and head forward, hold for 20 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Start on all fours, push your butt to your feet, extend your arms forward and tug your head in. You should feel a stretch along your lower back. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 5 times.
Another reason of lower back pain is that your back is doing all the work to support your upper body while you’re drumming. This load can (and should) be shared with your abdominal and torso muscles.
Build your core muscle strength, with a focus on your abdominal, torso and lower back muscles. And nope, you don’t need intense workouts to build these muscles.
I’m no personal trainer, but here’re some useful exercises that could help you strengthen your core muscles, as prescribed by legit physicians:
P.S. Core muscles are important in supporting our body and they tend to degenerate as we age. Clocking in some core muscle exercise while you’re drumming could also help to reduce pain and hip issues as you age 😉
Lower back pain is a common ailment that many drummers face. But it doesn’t have to be the case.
I shared 4 solutions that could help alleviate your back pain – checking your posture and set up, upgrading your drum throne, sneak in warm up stretches before a drumming session and build your core muscle strength with simple exercises.
You should be able to implement at least the first 3 quickly and easily.
I wish you painless drumming and all the best!