The Wiggles

Here’s a new Q+A Blog post. This time thesuperstitiousginger from instagram asks:

Do I get back pain faster if my throne wiggles? It seems to me like that is my main reason for pain while long practice sessions.

Excellent question, and, believe it or not, the subject of research. What you are noticing is probably the result of your muscles having to work extra hard to overcome the instability in the throne. An unstable throne can move unexpectedly and cause the body to make constant muscular adjustments to keep from falling over and the execute intended movements. This year I played 2 shows with shoddy thrones (bring your own throne whenever possible: even when there’s a backline!)  and by the end of each my back was starting to ache. All of those adjustments just started to wear me out.

There is an interesting bit of research that finds that people with low back pain tend make different sets of postural adjustments on wiggly chairs than people without it. What that means is that is isn’t the chair per se, but the way in which you sit on it. For example, I sometimes use this Hokki Stool to play. The stool is designed to be a fidget – something kids can sit on and move around in so they can behave better in the classroom. In fact, that is where I first ran into one of these. When I first sat on one I was so impressed with the instant feeling of hip orientation that I purchased on for my studio where it hangs out, and sometimes ends up behind a set of drums. At first I didn’t know what to expect, but was happily surprised when it worked just fine. It wasn’t rocking and rolling all over the place. However, I’m pretty good at sitting on it. I can see some of students sitting on it a completely different way. While I sit on it and keep it upright, when some of my students sit on it leans pretty far over, and they keep weight on their feet to maintain balance. This requires a different set of postural adjustments

And that’s the thing. When you sit well, the weight of your body is effectively distributed into the seat. When you slouch, (or otherwise are off balance) then your muscles have to work hard to keep you up. This is true whether the seat is wiggly or not. Of course, a wiggly seat doesn’t help. A really good, stable seat will make sitting well easier. Some other thrones also have their advantages. I wrote more complete guide to thrones in Anatomy of Drumming.

Of course, i can’t say what the cause of your back pain is – I’ve never met you, and back pain is surprisingly complicated. However, what you are talking about is a thing and I hope the knowledge helps out.



Stable seats are important, but not as important as good posture.
Stable seats are important, but not as important as good posture.

This information is for your information only. It is not intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such. The idea here is that the more you know, the healthier and more effective you will be. If you suspect you have a problem that requires medical attention, please see a reputable doctor who is knowledgeable about your problem.