From the tow-tapping thunder of a rock-and-roll bass line to the delicate high notes of a piano, music holds a power and wonder all it’s own. No other form of art is as subjectively beautiful as that of musical composition; just ask any music festivalite or concert lover and they’ll tell you the same. No matter what genre tickles your fancy, the creation, experience, and interpretation of music can only be described as indescribable — an artistic dance with an ebb and flow all its own.
In the spirit of music festival season and our love for all things movement, we are proud to present the first of a two-part series with Musician’s Physician Dr. Charlie Kautz, DC that highlights what goes on (medically speaking) behind the scenes of these sweet-sounding events. Read on for a glimpse of his unique take on treating those who make it all possible.
You’ve been practicing chiropractic for a while now. What got you into treating musicians specifically?
I’ve been practicing chiropractic for seven years and have been treating musicians since day one! My passion has always been music — listening to it, attending shows, and even dabbling in playing as a personal outlet for creativity and stress relief.
At first, offering my services to my favorite bands was just a way for me to hang out and contribute to the shows in a positive way. After being around touring musicians and observing how the industry operates, I realized there was a huge gap regarding providers such as chiropractors, physical therapists, and soft tissue/movement specialists; specifically, ones who could provide mobile or onsite care.
I also came to realize the similarities between the music and sports worlds: Musicians place athletic demands on fine motor musculature daily; this is nearly identical to athletes in regards to repetitive movements. If you conceptually break it down, there’s not much difference between someone who professionally dribbles and shoots a ball into a cylindrical hoop versus someone who professionally hits sticks on a drum.
I discovered I had the ability to connect with and genuinely help musicians and that this calling is one of my life’s missions. I therefore recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee to open a clinic and pursue this mission full time.
Which RockTape products do you use the most on your musicians? How and when are they applied (e.g. before vs. after a performance)?
RockTape, RockBlades, RockSauce, RockPods… I use it all. It’s always situational and depends on what each patient is dealing with and what our goal is. I have been using the Pods a lot of late and have even gotten creative by incorporating them into ART protocols.
Whether at festivals, in green rooms, or on tour, I typically treat musicians an hour or two before they perform. These treatments are designed with one primary goal — to optimize or enhance performance for the show that is to be played that evening. Feel good… move better… play your best.
Which taping patterns are commonly used on your performance clients, if any? What types of conditions (repetitive or otherwise) manifest most frequently?
Mostly postural applications to promote optimal movement patterns of the specific musician and his/her specific technique or style. Sometimes I use a pattern to counterbalance that musician’s faulty habits; other times, I attempt to stabilize an injury. Most injuries or chronic conditions are due to either RSI (repetitive strain injury) in the upper extremity or postural deviations.
Musicians are humans, too. All of us are spending entirely too much time glued to our tech devices, seated and slouching. Our bodies simply are not biomechanically designed to tolerate it.
Are any tape designs or colors more popular than others?
All black. It’s the unofficial color of the music industry. For some of the high-energy performers, the brighter and weirder, the better.
Tell me about your special juice! What’s in it? Who asks for it? And can I have some? 🙂
My super-secret magical elixir — half raw ginger root and the rest is a blend of turmeric, carrot, cayenne, lemon, and a dash of local honey. I juice it myself and give it to the entire band and crew as a “pre-show pick-me-up” right before the set starts. You really feel a clean, clear-headed, energy.
Everyone asks for it and yes you can have some!
What’s your most memorable festival experience?
A relative moment that comes to mind was when I was just a year or two out of school. I was set up backstage at a music festival and had just worked for the first time on Vinnie Amico (featured in the video embedded below and whose band I listened to while growing up). I was standing side stage for his set because I wanted to analyze his movements, style, and what I hoped was going to be a positive result from my treatment. Vinnie didn’t know I was there and immediately when he walked off stage, I overheard him say to a friend “Dude… some chiropractor worked on me before the show and I’ve never felt like this before. This was the best show I’ve ever played.” That’s when I knew there was something to this.
Another time, at Bonnaroo 2015, I got mistaken for someone else and was let on stage during Billy Joel’s performance. I was ten feet away from the piano, taking in a crowd of 80,000 people. Corey Feldman (one of The Goonies) was standing next to me.
One thing that I’m really proud of and stoked about is that we have started to implement integrated “pop-up” wellness centers at some festivals. Suwannee Hulaween is one. Massage therapists, audiologists, dietitians, sound meditation chairs, a team of chiropractors, and more — all working synergistically and sharing a common goal. Festival organizers are starting to turn onto to the benefits of providing these types of health and wellness services for their production team and performing artists. Musicians want and need what we can offer — it’s all about streamlining access.
Check back next month as we discuss Dr. Kautz’s taping methods in more detail and apply them to your next big concert or festival adventure!