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Med Probl Perform Art. 2018 Dec;33(4):251-257. doi: 10.21091/mppa.2018.4037.

Influence of Different Instrument Carrying Systems on the Kinematics of the Spine of Saxophonists.

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University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, Platz der Demokratie 2/3, 99423 Weimar, Germany. Tel +491706264778.



Back strain is a common musculoskeletal complaint affecting musicians, which may be related to unsuitable playing positions causing fatigue and muscle tension. In this study, three saxophone-carrying systems (neck-strap, shoulder-strap, and Saxholder) were examined for their effects on spinal column kinematics.


The influence of saxophone-carrying systems was investigated in 14 physically healthy alto saxophonists using ultrasound topometry. Additional tests were performed on 1 subject to examine the influence of the different weights of alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones with the three different carrying systems.


The clearest difference between two systems (shoulder-strap vs Saxholder) was found in the angle at which the player's head bows forward while playing (3.35°; 95% CI 0.44, 6.26; p=0.0272). The use of the Saxholder resulted in a physiologically favorable axial position of the head. The head posture to ankle distance showed that the shoulder-strap and Saxholder, compared to the neck-strap, allowed a sagittal straightening and therefore advantageous axially balanced body position, although the differences were not statistically significant. The Saxholder also enabled a stabilization in the frontal section of the shoulders. In additional tests on 1 subject, the coefficient of variation showed that the instruments' weights had a larger influence on the physiologically favorable balanced body position than the different carrying systems.


This pilot study was able to show that the technique of sonometric examination (Zebris) is an effective way to investigate the influence of instrument-carrying systems on the kinematics of the spine. The Saxholder may be physiologically advantageous, but further research with a larger sample is needed to verify the findings.


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