Technically no, however consider this: Reuters Health compared the “challenges and demands” of a marching band “geek” to those of a football athlete.
Typically high school marching bands begin practice in summer prior to the school year and their drills can be 8 hours of physical activity for days on end. During a ten minute half-time show, they may clock 4 to 6 miles on the field at two to three steps per second.
As half-time shows for marching bands and drum & bugle corps show off fancy footwork at record speeds, the physical demands become increasingly difficult. Imagine marching (or running as some do) at a fast pace while continuously moving backwards, forwards, sideways, and dancing … plus carrying and playing an instrument from memorized music in a heavy uniform.
While a trumpet weighs about 2 pounds, arms must be held up continuously, putting stress on neck, back, shoulders, and arms for 7 to 10 minutes. The unfortunate tuba player is carrying between 15 to 30 pounds depending on whether they have a fiberglass or brass instrument. It’s a wonder we don’t see more marching band injuries!
ESPN conducted a study to monitor a drummer while performing. His heart rate was similar to that of a marathon runner at 200 beats per minute. Gary Grenata, a New Orleans physiologist said, “In marching band, you get a level of competition equal to that of a Division I athletic program.” He cited a survey showing 95% of band members experienced a sprain, soreness, and/or fatigue during season. Further, 25% suffered an injury or heat related incident requiring treatment, particularly in the south with a high heat index during football season.
The muscles most used by a marching musician are:
- Hip flexors
- Tibialis anterior
Even though football players are overall more physically fit, the band enthusiast must train at practice both musically and physically to prepare. Many band directors now require warm-ups with stretches and even yoga before hitting the field. In thirty two states, marching band is now recognized with a Physical Education credit.
Next time you see a marching band, know that those “geeks” are tough athletes!
At 360 ORTHOPEDICS we take care of injured musicians as well as athletes. We have three convenient locations in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and Venice, Florida and offer same or next day appointments when needed.