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Marching BandPlaying oboe in the middle school orchestra probably doesn’t give me enough experience to really weigh in this subject, but a Reuters Health article today does point out some interesting parallels between band members and athletes:

The physical challenges and demands of participating in a competitive high school marching band are similar to those experienced by athletes who compete in sports like football, according to research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Seattle.

Today, marching bands no longer just march in precision formation, study presenter Gary Granata, told Reuters Health. “In the past 20 years, marching bands have gone to these highly choreographed visual shows, where performers are literally running around the field at very high velocities with heavy instruments while playing very difficult passages.”

“At the top levels of marching band and drum corps, you get a level of competition and athleticism that is equal to a division I athletic program,” added Granata, an exercise physiologist, registered dietitian and owner of the New Orleans-based company PerformWell.

Based on an anonymous questionnaire regarding physical demands, challenges and injuries, common responses included fatigue, muscle soreness, and injuries — the same as those  associated with competitive sports and athletics.

Nearly a quarter said they felt faint or sick to their stomach after marching band participation and more than half experienced heat-related illness.

In addition, more than 38 percent said they had suffered an injury as a direct result of participating in marching band.

The wealth of research conducted on traditional sports has led to guidelines that help ensure the safety of participants and proper methods to enhance training regimens, Granata noted. “Yet, there is essentially no research on marching bands,” he told Reuters Health, “a sport where kids participate in the heat at very high intensity levels that are incurring injuries.”

Safety guidelines and effective training regimens are needed for marching band and drum corps — a “strenuous physical activity that has rates of both participation and injury similar to competitive sports”– he concluded.

Though not great quality, this YouTube video provides some evidence of the above.

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