The influence of feet positioning on posture and balance of upper-string instrument players
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Drawing on upper-string pedagogy research, violin and viola method books, literature on posture and balance, and using data collected with the SMART Balance Master® (balance machine), this project investigated weight distribution and feet positioning amongst string instrumentalists. Feet positioning in violin and viola players is critical for performance, but may well be a factor for pain-free performance, longevity, and an injury-free career. In the past, preference for one or another type of foot placement was based on aesthetical trends; nowadays a more functional approach attempts to help the player counter balance the weight of the instrument while facilitating movement in the upper limbs. Its long-term effects on the player’s overall posture may gauge the importance of feet positioning. For example, the unconsciously practiced left-foot-dominant stance may cause undue pressure on the left hip, knee, and ankle joints. Consequently, the cascading effects radiate upwards, perhaps compromising the back, neck, and shoulder muscles. The purpose of this study was to determine if: 1) the center of gravity in violinists and violists is biased toward the lateral side where the instrument is typically held during quiet stance without the instrument, and 2) if this bias might be increased or diminished depending on the type of feet positioning chosen for performance. The results of this testing provide an insight for better ways of teaching body posture through foot placement to beginner upper-string students. Teachers are to ‘set up students for success’ and build them up correctly from feet to head. These are core aspects maximizing their potential, without compromising the body, while ensuring longevity without injury.