Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

Body Symettry for Dulcimer Players and Woodworkers

Physical therapy is a wonderful thing. It has helped me continue to play dulcimer and hammered dulcimer as well as standing at the bench and working with hand tools.

I have a chronic physical challenge I have to deal with but many aging musicians, woodworkers and luthiers face a similar issue; doing something you love causes or aggravates physical discomfort.

symettrical dulcimer playingWorking with a good physical therapist taught me how to use my body in ways that work better. At times the learning curve was frustrating. The switch from playing hammered dulcimer standing up to sitting down and having the instrument at a steep angle was awkward at first. Over time I found I can play longer and with less pain.

I’m still experimenting with the height of my workbench.

My style of playing slower tunes on the hammered dulcimer often involves using my hands independently. As a result my left arm is extended more than the right. The muscles in my left arm and shoulder work much harder than those in my right arm.hammered dulcimer symettry

When hand planing wood I have the opposite problem. My right arm gets a wonderful workout but the left arm does not.

A physical therpaist will evaluate and treat each person’s unique situation as needed. A common theme is to help people use their bodies symmetrically.

One exercise I do is to simply reverse the way I do things so the other overworked side of my body gets to relax while the weaker side gains some strength.

At the hammered dulcimer I have worked up some pieces and exercises where I lead with the right hand instead of the left.

At the bench I have been learning to do some left handed planing (I’m right handed). I would not do anything critical at the bench leading with my non-dominant hand at this point. I have found planing scrap lumber left handed entertaining, amusing, humiliating and a great work out for the weak muscles on the left side of my body.Symettrical planing

Give it a try!

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2 Comments

  1. @Luke Townsley

    Hi Luke,
    Thanks for the info. I’ve been treated with trigger point therapy and it is great stuff. Part of the regime I use to keep going includes a variety of such things; massage, acupuncture, etc.

    Each persons body is a little different. I think of mine as if it were an old slant six engine; it just keeps on running no matter what!

    All the best,

    Doug

  2. Luke Townsley

    Doug,

    I don’t have any physical limitations per se, but I have found the book “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief” to be pretty much one stop shopping for answers to most of my stress and overwork induced occasional aches and pains as well as the best solution I have found for Restless Legs Syndrome.

    You can either do the trigger point therapy yourself or go to a therapist that uses it in which case it will likely be integrated with other kinds of therapy. Both have their advantages.

    For the

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers