Impact of a Neck Strap Intervention on Perceived Effort, Thumb Force, and Muscle Activity of Clarinetists

Smyth, Courtney
MIrka, Gary
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Science & Medicine, Inc.
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Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
OBJECTIVE: Clarinetists often report discomfort of the right wrist and thumb and note that it is likely the result of the constant force applied to the area from the instrument’s weight and the musician’s technique. One preventative measure to reduce this discomfort is the use of a neck strap. The objective of the current study was to document the biomechanical impacts of this intervention. METHODS: Eight experienced clarinetists played a series of three etude pieces while playing both with and without a neck strap. For each condition, the force between the right thumb and clarinet was measured, electromyographic (EMG) data were collected from seven muscle groups, and subjective assessment of perceived effort was obtained. RESULTS: The results showed that when the neck strap was used, there was a significant decrease in the average force between the thumb and clarinet (p<0.05) and a decrease in the average perceived effort required for the right shoulder and thumb of the participants (p<0.05). Importantly, there were no statistically significant increases in the muscle activity of any of the neck and shoulder muscles with the introduction of the neck strap intervention. CONCLUSION: A neck strap intervention had positive effects on the right thumb while not causing any known adverse effects to other areas such as the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
This is a manuscript of an article published as Smyth, Courtney, and Gary A. Mirka. "Impact of a Neck Strap Intervention on Perceived Effort, Thumb Force, and Muscle Activity of Clarinetists." Medical Problems of Performing Artists 36, no. 4 (2021): 225-232. DOI: 10.21091/mppa.2021.4025. Copyright 2021 Science & Medicine, Inc. Posted with permission.