Having read a news article about Vladimir Ashkenazy having to give up his public piano playing due to arthritis I started to wonder if there was any link between the two. The question to be asked is piano playing a good or bad thing for your joints and will it induce or deter you from getting arthritis? My research led me to some interesting conclusions.
The right way and the wrong way to play the piano: In fact piano playing really does not induce arthritis if you do it correctly. Having played the piano myself in my young days I can say that there is definitely a wrong way and a right way to play the piano. Before you even start there are finger exercises like the “five finger exercise” and others to do. These exercises serve as a warm up and help to strengthen your fingers and make them more flexible.
Playing the piano the right way can help arthritis: When you play the piano you also have to position your wrists and hands in the correct way. When you do this you will in fact be putting the right pressure on your fingers and joints. This will actually improve blood circulation to your joints and help with any joint problems.
Playing the piano does indeed help you if you have arthritis and you play for a certain amount of time on a daily basis. However if you are playing for a living like a concert pianist you may have some problems. It is not that piano playing itself induces arthritis but if you have the problem already, due to other causes, too much exertion of your joints could be bad.
Plus when a concert pianist is on full work load they do have to practice up to 8 hours a day. Much of this will be repetitive phrases over and over again. This repetitive pattern of the hands may be a strain on the joints. It is well documented that repetitive movement of the joints can be a factor in arthritis. After some time arthritis can creep up on a performer due to this strain on the joints.
However surprisingly enough you do not hear of arthritis stopping pianists in their tracks too often. Given these facts it would appear that piano playing is actually good for your joints and although it may not always prevent this disease is good therapy for your joints and can help you with hand arthritis.