Aims: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.