As with the psychological risk factors that I describe, the social risk factors are not specific to overuse injury but also apply to acute injury.
Do no harm: medical interventions
Hippocrates is credited with formulating the most important principle of medicine which is to ‘do no harm’. The reason that this is such an important principle is because it is very easy for medicine and related interventions to actually make things worse. So that is why if you want to avoid injury it is important to be cautious about any medical interventions and within this category I include physiotherapy and podiatry as well.
When I tried physiotherapy I wasn’t aware that you can be injured by physiotherapy. It never crossed my mind. Maybe because nobody ever mentioned it. However this is no different to the way that it is only when you become injured as a musician that you find that musicians can pick up injuries too from overplaying or ‘mis’-playing. Similarly even alternative approaches such as yoga can cause injury.
The silence or lack of information about injury associated with these activities may be partly deliberate to avoid discouraging people from using the services of physiotherapists and yoga teachers. I’m not sure why it is downplayed with musicianship. I can see why the government wants to encourage people to exercise and not tell people about the risks of exercising in case this discourages people, however even walking can cause injury if it is undertaken incorrectly.
I am not advocating not learning a musical instrument, trying yoga or physiotherapy or taking up walking, but I think that if one is aware of the risks then a considered decision can be made about whether these activities are worth doing and then if one does decide to do them, then the next step is to undertake them in such a way as to minimise the risk of injury.
Social change: The Internet
Social changes can cause health issues because it takes a while for society to understand and adapt to these changes. The Internet and social media are an example of a major and rapid social change that brings benefits but also risks. I discuss here how the Internet is a risk factor for injury. The use of these changing technologies also can cause injury directly through Repetitive Strain Injury.
The further one is down the social class hierarchy the more that one is exposed to risk. Living in a less affluent area one is more exposed to the risk of violent assault. In one’s job one is more likely to get an overuse injury because you are more likely to be doing repetitive work. The psychological stress of poverty may cause mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. As a child I hated the stigma of having to queue up in full view of the other children for my free school meal tickets and I was visibly identifiable as being poor because my parents couldn’t afford to buy us proper school uniforms. Poorer children are also more likely to live in overcrowded conditions and have less adequate nutrition. Their parents are often under stress because they are struggling financially and they may transfer this stress to their children.