The health hazards of head banging

February 22, 2011 by  
Filed under BRAIN

Head banging is mainstay feature of rock concerts. Performers and spectators alike can do head banging which come in many different styles. Seems like harmless fun. Or is it?

Head banging supposedly started in 1968 at a Led Zepellin concert. Since then it has “developed into a collection of distinctive styles including the up-down, the circular swing, the full body and the side-to-side.”

However, there have been reports in recent years that linked head banging to health hazards that include brain trauma, hearing loss, stroke and trauma to the neck.

So researchers head over to rock concerts and see what it’s all about. Here is what they found.

  • The up-down style was the most common head banging technique, the style one encounters in hard rock and heavy metal concerts of the likes of Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row.
  • The average head banging song has a tempo of about 146 beats per minute.

They then constructed a head model that simulated the head banging and found that injury risk is also increased at tempos of 130 beats per minute with a certain range of motion. When the range of movement of the head and neck is more than 75º, headaches and dizziness could occur. Increasing the tempo and the ranges of motion increases the risk for neck injury.

Of course extreme head banging such as done in the original Led Zepellin concert – fans banging their heads against the stage – even increases the injury risk to the head even more. And hitting against other solid objects, including heads of other fans – well, that should well be avoided.

And what of two of the most famous head bangers, Beavis and Butt-head? When head banging at a tempo of 164 beats per minute to “I Wanna be Sedated” the range of motion of Beavis’ head and neck is about 45º, say the authors, so he would be unlikely to sustain any injury. But the news for Butt-head may not be so rosy. Preferring to head bang at a range of motion of 75º, he may well experience symptoms of headaches and dizziness.

Fortunately, there are sensible musicians out there who include warning against head banging on their album covers and packaging. But if you are really into head banging and can’t do without it, try wearing a helmet and neck braces to the concert!
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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.