Head and neck injury risks for Head Bangers

Head banging increases the risk of head and neck injury, but the effects may be lessened with reduced head and neck motion, head banging to lower tempo songs or to every second beat, and using protective equipment such as neck braces, finds a study in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com.

What began in 1968 at a Led Zeppelin concert with fans banging their heads on the stage, has developed into a collection of distinctive styles including the up-down, the circular swing, the full body and the side-to-side. Anecdotal reports of head banging induced injury include hearing loss, stroke and mild traumatic brain injury, but there has been little formal research into head banging…

The researchers attended hard rock and heavy metal concerts including Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row, and identified that the up-down style was the most common head banging technique. They constructed a theoretical head banging model of this popular style to examine the effect the range of head and neck motion has on injury severity. A focus group of ten musicians was used to calculate the average tempo of their favourite head banging songs.

The authors found that there is an increasing risk of neck injury beginning at tempos of 130 beats per minute related to the range of motion in the head banging style.

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.

I like their suggested remedies: have AC/DC switch to songs like “Moon River” instead of “Highway to Hell”. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.

One thought on “Head and neck injury risks for Head Bangers

  1. Cinaedh says:

    I wonder if these researchers made allowances for the types and the degree of medications being experienced by the audiences during the course of the concerts they observed?

    Personally, I’ve noticed necks are sometimes very stiff and prone to injury but then again, sometimes necks get extremely flexible and are therefore unlikely to be injured.

    Great song, Eideard! Now it’s stuck in my head again for who knows how long?

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