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Health Hazard Alert: Head-Banging May Hurt Your Brain

By Boonsri Dickinson
Jan 7, 2009 12:38 AMApr 12, 2023 2:43 PM


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It's bad enough that loud music can potentially harm your hearing. But now it turns out that head-banging, a violent and rapid form of dancing, can put you at risk for brain injury, whiplash, and even stroke. There have been isolated reports of head-banging injuries in the past: When guitarist Terry Balsamo of Evanescence had a stroke, his doctors attributed it to his on-stage thrashing. But until now, scientists really haven’t studied the effects of head-banging since it first started back in 1968 with Led Zeppelin. According to Australian risk and safety researchers Declan Patton and Andrew McIntosh from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, head-banging is pretty much guaranteed to give you brain damage if you’re not careful. To test their theory, the researchers went to a variety of metal and hard rock concerts (the best way to test any scientific theory) and observed the head-thrashing techniques used by artists. Then they created a “theoretical head-banging model" and plugged in various possible head angles and intensities. Using the top 11 "head-banging songs" chosen by a focus group, they measured an average tempo of 146 beats per minute, which they combined with head-banging arcs of more than 75 degrees from a person’s upright stance. They concluded that the typical death-metal tempo combined with a head-banging arc of at least 45 degrees will likely "cause mild head and neck injury." So is there hope for death-metal lovers? Yes, according to Patton and McIntosh, who offer the following advice:

“To minimize the risk of head and neck injury, head bangers should decrease their range of head and neck motion, head bang to slower tempo songs by replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock, only head bang to every second beat, or use personal protective equipment.”

 Image: flickr/Persian Catwoman

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