The Musician as (In)Active Athlete?: Exploring the Association Between Physical Activity and Musculoskeletal Complaints in Music Students

V.A.E. Baadjou*, J.A.M.C.F. Verbunt, M.D.F van Eijsden-Besseling, S.M.D. Huysmans, R.J.E.M. Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Musicians are often compared to athletes because of the physical exertion required to play music. The aim of this study was to explore the physical activity level of music students and to study its relationship with musculoskeletal complaints. A second goal was to assess associations between physical activity and pain, quality of life, and disability. METHODS: This cross-sectional study among third-and fourth-year music students used an electronic survey including measures for physical activity (SQUASH-Short Questionnaire to Assess Health-enhancing physical activity), musculoskeletal complaints (DMQ-Dutch Musculoskeletal Questionnaire), disability (DASH-Disability Arm, Shoulder, Hand questionnaire) and quality of life (Short Form-12). Students were classified as compliers or non-compliers with moderate-and vigorous-intensity physical activity recommendations. Statistical analysis was done using (non) parametric tests (t-test, Pearson chi-square test, Mann-Whitney U-test) and correlational testing. RESULTS: Participants were 132 students, 63.6% female, with a median age of 23 yrs (range 21.3-25.0). 67% reported musculoskeletal complaints in the past 7 days. Their median physical activity level was 6,390 MET-min/wk, and 62% and 10% of the students accomplished recommendations for moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity physical activity levels, respectively. No significant differences were found in prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints between students who met moderate-or vigorous-intensity physical activity recommendations and students who did not. Physical activity level was not associated with musculoskeletal complaints (r= 0.12, p= 0.26). Higher pain intensity was associated with a lower quality of life (r=-0.53 p<0.01) and higher disability (r= 0.43, p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Music students are mainly involved in light-to moderate-intensity physical activities and rarely in vigorous-intensity activities. No correlation was found between physical activity level in the past months and musculoskeletal complaints in music students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-237
JournalMedical Problems of Performing Artists
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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