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Open Access Muscle Activation and Subjectively Perceived Effort in Typical Violin Positions

Violinists display a high incidence of task-specific musculoskeletal problems. Sources pertaining to violin playing and teaching traditions as well as musicians’ medicine research offer only imprecise and contradictory recommendations regarding suitable instrument positions. The aim of this study was to add to a growing scientific base for teaching and medical counseling regarding violin positioning. The study evaluated muscle activation (EMG) and subjectively perceived effort (Borg scale) in four standardized typical violin positions, as well as the violinists’ normally used one. The hypothesis, the smaller the angle between the instrument’s longitudinal axis (LoAx) and the player’s central sagittal plane (CSP) and the angle between its lateral axis (LatAx) and the player’s horizontal plane (HP), the more muscle activation and perceived effort in the violinist’s left arm, was confirmed: Decreasing the LoAx-CSP angle from 50° to 20° and the LatAx-HP angle from 50° to 20° resulted in a highly significant and independent increase of EMG and Borg scale self-ratings mean values. Results may allow for a first step in decision-making on violin positioning for ergonomic adaptations in teaching as well as prevention and therapy of playing-related health problems at all levels of proficiency.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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  • Medical Problems of Performing Artists is the first clinical medical journal devoted to the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of medical and psychological disorders related to the performing arts. Original peer-reviewed research papers cover topics including neurologic disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, voice and hearing disorders, anxieties, stress, substance abuse, and other health issues related to actors, dancers, singers, musicians, and other performers.
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