WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF HEADBANGING? Report by Shane Brannagh for The Metal Voice
Headbanging, supposedly became popular in unison with the advent of Heavy Metal, in the early 1970s. Though providing a definition, seems somewhat redundant it is categorized as “a violent and rhythmic movement of the head in time with rock music of any genre.” We might consider it somewhat harmless, as for the most part, there seems to be little lasting damage. I myself have woken up the night after countless tour dates, completely immobilized, from the neck upwards, but seemingly never learn from my mistakes. It’s just how it is…There is however, some evidence to suggest that certain fans might be endangered by such excess.
Four cases of subdural haematoma or internal bleeding of the brain, have been linked to the practice. Whilst Head Banging has in the past been linked to other health complications, including injuries to both the neck and the spine, these are few and far between. German Doctor Luke Griggs, representative of Headway, The Brain Injury Association (BBC NEWS 2014) had stated that "Repeated aggressive movement of the head can lead to damage being caused to the brain as it moves inside the skull, but it's fair to say this is a very unusual case. Whilst he elaborated that suffering subdural haematoma as a direct result of head banging would be most irregular, he advised that any individual suffering a constant, worsening headache over an extended period of time, having been to a concert or otherwise, should certainly seek out professional medical advice.
The issue itself was highlighted when a fifty year old man, developed bleeding in the brain in the days following a Motorhead concert. After complaining of a chronic headache, he was treated by Hannover Medical school neurosurgeons for a period of four weeks, following his admission. The doctor’s discovered a blood clot had developed on the right side of his brain, which the surgeons fortunately managed to remove successfully. (The Lancet NEWS 2014)
However, after draining the blood from the patient’s clot, a cyst was discovered that would have allowed the unnamed patient’s brain to be more susceptible to haemorrhaging. The doctors were later quoted as stating that this bizarre medical anomaly served as evidence in support of Motorhead’s reputation as “one of the most hardcore, rock and roll acts on Earth, if nothing else because of their music's contagious speed drive and the hazardous potential for headbanging fans to suffer brain injury.”
A 2008 study, conducted by the School of Risk and Safety Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia involved research conducted from tour dates, of well-known rock acts including Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne and WASP, suggested that the danger of causing physical damage to oneself increases exponentially when a songs, bpm reaches 135. According to the study, the average headbanging track has a tempo of 146 bmp as a matter of reference.
The evidence thus far, suggests that whilst headbanging can prove hazardous in exceptional cases, there is little reason to panic for the average “John Doe” Megadeth or Iron Maiden fan. The evidence suggests that while risk of injury is slight, precautions should be taken. It could be as simple as taking a few songs out, head banging to every second beat or even dare I say it….abstaining altogether sometimes, or stretching ones neck and upper back prior to a night of excessive headbanging to minimize neck pain as advised by many doctors a warm-up.
In conclusion, common sense is an invaluable resource to possess, because after all, no one is indestructible.
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