Oh no, not headbanging! Consequences of Sound posted a really interesting piece on the dangers of headbanging that's worth reading. They mention a few stories we've previously covered including how headbagning can make your brain bleed and how Slayer's Tom Araya can no longer functionally headbang.
They also shared a link we never saw before of a metalhead who suffered a brain aneurism from headbanging. What?!
Anyway, while the risk of permanent injury is low, it's still there:
“The rapid and aggressive flexion-extension coupling that occurs at the cervical spine during headbanging is similar to a whiplash injury mechanism,” strength coach Nicole Dinn says. “There’s even a term for it – headbanger’s whiplash. So outside of just chilling at a concert, which would be really fucking boring, you’re probably going to have a stiff neck after the metal show.”
Luckily, the strength coach, Nicole Dinn, also offered advice on how to avoid injury while headbanging:
“Any neck stabilization exercises would be super-important to strengthen the deep neck flexor and extensors and to take the strain off of the scalene and the sternocleidomastoid muscles. If people are having neck pain due to headbanging, then they’d have to get into a daily neck stabilization exercise routine,” she says.
“In the long term, generally staying in shape will help strengthen your back muscles,” Dinn suggests. “Doing exercises to activate the posterior chain and core are always a good idea. I personally prefer weightlifting because when done correctly, it promotes excellent spinal alignment, core strength, and hip/ankle mobility.”
In terms of pre-concert prep, Dinn recommends a warm-up: “You could do some mobility work pre-concert to loosen up the muscles around the upper and mid-back area. I use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to get to those hard-to-reach, ouchie spots. Keep these handy because you’ll probably want them after the concert.”
Also note that drug and alcohol use may numb the pain of headbanging, so be careful with how much you consume. (Yea, good luck with us enforcing that one, right?)
Dinn says ultimately, if you're going to headbang, do it slow or low, but not fast or hard and make sure you headbang evenly on both sides.
Lots more tips can be found in Consequences of Sound's excellent writeup.