Sunday, 19 July 2009

Behind the O-Daiko - Post-Performance Recovery


Like any hard exercise, O-Daiko playing is followed by a good deal of soreness, plenty of hot baths, and lots of stretching.  My last big performance was a 90 minute event 6 days ago and I still feel it, particularly in my lower back, and upper neck & shoulders. 

At present, I only get to perform publicly on the O-Daiko a few times a year.  Normally I play the chu-daiko (mid-sized drum) on a similarly raised stand that positions centre of the drum at head-height.  O-Daiko playing is different in a number of key ways,
  • You're hitting higher, as the center of the drum is above your head.
  • You're hitting harder.  A big drum demands a heavy strike.
  • You're playing longer.  The O-Daiko is difficult to transport, and therefore it is only brought out on longer performances. 
  • The bachi are heaver.  I generally use larger and heavier bachi on the O-Daiko
These differences stress some new muscle groups that I do not normally use as heavily in a performance.  The muscles I notice most;

Upper traps, technically known as the trapezius (upper fibers), and the back of the neck or splenius.  Basically the entire back-of-neck area is noticeably sore.  This muscle group is stressed because the center of the O-daiko is above your head, so you are looking and striking upwards at an angle through most of the performance to get the loudest sound. 

Lower traps, aka trapezius (lower fibers).  Honestly, I'm not sure why these are sore.  Those musles are mostly used to pull the arm and shoulder back, which seems unnecessary as the O-Daiko bounces you back heavily already.  I may be tensing unconsciously.

Shoulders, in particular the lateral deltoids, which are sort of the "outside" of your shoulders.  These are used because your arms are lifted for much of the performance, with your elbows above your shoulders.

Hip flexors or iliopsoas, essentially the lower back & sides.  Power is generated through the hips, something like swinging a baseball bat, or throwing a good punch.  There is a lot of torso twisting accordant to that which stresses these muscles more than usual.
I'm a bit surprised that upper pecs and the front of the shoulders (anterior delts) are not sore at all, as these are used a lot.  I suspect they've been well enough conditioned in normal taiko playing to weather a 90 minute performance without ill after-effects.

Also intersting is that even with heavy taping, the entire inside of your hand, from the base of your palm to the fingertips, is rubbed slightly raw.  I don't normally notice this, except when I go to shower or wash my hands.  Warm water stings a lot for the first few days after the performance.