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tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:47 am

A regular bag of concrete mix weighs 80 lbs.
An old-guy/bad-back bag of concrete mix weighs 50 lbs.
It's rare that a tuba weighs more than 30 lbs.
It's a rare tuba that weighs as much as 30 lbs.
My pretty-dang-large contrabass tuba (loaded with valves) weighs 24 lbs.
3/4 size tubas with four valves often weigh at least 20 lbs.
Toting around a music stand, extra mouthpieces, bulky-style stand lights, tuners, metronomes, bottles of liquids, rags, and other items can quickly/easily add several pounds to the tote.
Even though (other than my *current acute back problem, which will go away in a few days or a few weeks...but which brought this subject to the fore in my mind) I have no back issues, I often - when possible - drop off my instrument(s) at the stage or venue door (when deemed safe...and I would deem a church fellowship hall entrance where a community band would typically rehearse as "safe"), park my vehicle, and retrieve it/them on the way in to the venue.

bloke "just sayin'...or - maybe - I don't get it. If so, make me understand."

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*likely, tied in with cutting 300 feet of 15' tall x 15' high hedge back to its trunks up to the 8' height point, and slinging thousands of 4" diameter to 2" diameter 10' long cut branches out of the way...probably, a good way to obtain a sore back...
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:56 am

Agreed that many, but not all, venues are "safe enough" to drop off your load and come back after parking. However.....I'd get a "buddy system" whereby someone else in the band would stand by my stuff until I came back to retrieve it. People will be delighted to help.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bisontuba » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:35 pm

Nice idea, but doesn't work for large venues....at least in this area....
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby nworbekim » Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:27 pm

ahhh, there's a DIFFERENCE between a sore back because of muscles and a sore back because of compromised disks and compressed nerves.... mine won't get better in a few weeks. if your present condition were permanent?

take care of your back... it will wear out.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:24 pm

I get that, but what is the difference between a 24 pound tuba and a 20 pound tuba + 4 pounds of junk?
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby nworbekim » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:39 pm

bloke wrote:I get that, but what is the difference between a 24 pound tuba and a 20 pound tuba + 4 pounds of junk?


for me, it isn't the 20/24 lb horn, it's when the 25 lb case is added. my messina gig bag has thus far relieved that problem.

i don't have problems lifting even 80 to 100 lbs if i need to, and i might lift that much several times today and nothing happen, but then again, if i happen to move the wrong way or bend over too far with it and one of the spurs grabs a nerve... (stenosis) or a bulging disk decides to bulge further... there we go...

i just don't take the chances... it's like Russian roulette. 5 of 6 times i may not have any problems, but that time i do... it costs... it may be in pain, medication, dr. visits, MRI's, or therapy.... but it makes me pay a price.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:11 pm

nworbekim wrote:for me, it isn't the 20/24 lb horn, it's when the 25 lb case is added.


ref: the 50 lb. old-man-size bag of concrete mix...
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby NDCompuGeek » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:14 pm

nworbekim wrote:i just don't take the chances... it's like Russian roulette. 5 of 6 times i may not have any problems, but that time i do... it costs... it may be in pain, medication, dr. visits, MRI's, or therapy.... but it makes me pay a price.


I once blew out my back picking up a piece of paper on a table, all because I twisted to see who rang the doorbell. I was on meds and physical therapy for a good 6 months -- between the pain of the injury and the pain of the therapy, I didn't know which was worse at the time. This is why I try and get to know the instruments they have in the band corral and simply use one that's already there. Community band / orchestra at the local university vs truly "professional" gig, so I don't necessarily need perfect (or "better through familiarity") intonation that I would get playing my own horn, but with enough playing I can figure out the quirks of that horn and still be pretty good (which is a step or two above "good enough"). I still want to do well, I'm just not willing to sacrifice my health and another 6 months of my life living in pain to do it.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Three Valves » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:20 pm

I always insist my contracts have a “tuba bearer” clause in them...
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:24 pm

Three Valves wrote:I always insist my contracts have a “tuba bearer” clause in them...


To the contrary, one might hear me demand that someone keep their bear claws off my tuba.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Donn » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:33 pm

I suppose I should know better than to step in this - myself with no back troubles whatever - but the lady of the house has had some issues with something called lateral listhesis, which if you read the descriptions sounds kind of like the beginning of the end. Had it pretty bad a year ago; now I never hear about it, because it's more or less gone. Now of course, it isn't really gone - that stuff doesn't really re-grow - but as best as I can make out, the muscle tone in her back has made the difference. And she did a couple of things to stop aggravating it: got rid of her manual transmission car, and quit exercising. That muscle development isn't the result of narrowly focused repetitive exercise, it's from doing stuff all day, much of it outdoors in a place with no comfy office chairs. I wouldn't guarantee that it would work for anyone else, particularly since hers is an asymmetrical condition that could benefit more than average from general back muscle development, but maybe something to think about. If it were me, unless I had some ambition to do another kind of thing with a lot of varied physical activity, I'd think about just walking places more and driving less.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Bill Troiano » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:21 am

Ditto what nworbekim said. I'm constantly looking at lighter tuba options. I have shoulder issues, possibly from years of fitness distance swimming, and/or possibly due to my having hemochromatosis (iron overload disease). I never heard of that until I was diagnosed with it over 25 years ago. It can possibly cause all kinds of issues, joint deterioration being of of them. For me, it could be that I have hemochromatosis and the swimming eventually blew out my shoulders because it ate the cartilage. I had therapy and surgery and it never got good again. I can't swim free style anymore, which scares me if I was ever in a situation where I had to. I used to be able to swim a mile in the ocean. Not anymore. Plus, I can't lift my arms over my head, even without weights. Yet, I can bench press 135, 10+ times, and I weigh 165. And, I've had lower back issues, knee and ankle issues. Maybe I shouldn't even go to the gym. Plus, I like to play sousaphone standing. If anyone told me 10 years ago, that I'd be moving to Texas and playing a sousaphone for most gigs, I'd have told them they're f'n nuts. Yet, here I am, at almost 68 yrs. old, and playing a few gigs almost weekly. All of this makes me want to play a light instrument. It's not actually the playing of it, but more the packing it, unpacking it, loading it, carrying it, putting it in the car, and out of the car, etc. So, that's my issue and others could have different issues, but if you have pain in your main joints, dealing with tubas can be a pain !!
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby nworbekim » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:50 am

I can see swimming wearing shoulders out. I conducted bands several hours a day for a couple of decades plus 10 years of strenuous martial arts. I'm in decent shape, not as strong as I used to be and since I began taking blood pressure meds, I've picked up about 25 lbs in a couple of years.

Yet at times I can't raise a cup of coffee to drink... I've discovered a trick though. If I can't raise my arm with the palm down, turn it sideways and I can ... Or the opposite. A therapist showed me that... The direction the palm faces determines the set of muscles used... And the placement of the elbow helps.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby bloke » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:53 pm

Just fwiw...
This isn't a troll.
I'm currently dealing with (hopefully, acute, and not chronic) back issues...something foreign to me, and it got me thinking about the 20 lb. vs. 24 lb. issues that seem to matter to people with back issues.

bloke "I took a backwards tumble a few days ago pulling a huge wild grape vine out of a huge hedge - a 15'X15'x300' hedge which was being chainsawed into submission. Several decades ago, there was a large grape orchard a mile or two from here, and - just as with 1950's-planted privet hedge - the area has dealt with the residual effects ever since."
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Stryk » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:53 pm

So far, the strategy that works for me is at church, (which is a block walk to the rehearsal room, a block walk to the sanctuary, then the reverse after the service,) is to use either my 4/4 4 valve in a Gard wheelie case, OR my 184 in a gig bag. So far, so good. If it gets to the point I can't handle that, plan B will be to keep a horn at the church. As long as I can get a horn in my truck, Community band is not an issue - about 50' from parking to rehearsal room. Concert venues, I do what Joe said - drop it off, park, and walk to where I dropped it. Since I do have a handicapped permit, there are usually spaces available close to stage doors, etc.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby hrender » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:03 pm

I have a good friend who swam for years, but can't do many activities because of shoulder issues. He's in otherwise excellent physical condition. I've been active in martial arts for almost 35 years and still can do many things fine, but the wear and tear on my knees has begun to limit some activities. Another friend, 10 years younger than me and in excellent shape, has had back problems since he was 30, but he can keep them under control doing daily PT-recommended exercises.

In my experience, physical issues are pretty much inevitable with age, regardless of how well you take care of yourself. You just have to expect them and adapt as needed.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby nworbekim » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:56 pm

hrender wrote:I have a good friend who swam for years, but can't do many activities because of shoulder issues. He's in otherwise excellent physical condition. I've been active in martial arts for almost 35 years and still can do many things fine, but the wear and tear on my knees has begun to limit some activities. Another friend, 10 years younger than me and in excellent shape, has had back problems since he was 30, but he can keep them under control doing daily PT-recommended exercises.

In my experience, physical issues are pretty much inevitable with age, regardless of how well you take care of yourself. You just have to expect them and adapt as needed.


35 years... that's amazing. my style was Kung-fu (shaolin) my teacher was 5th degree black and a firm believer in the adage, what doesn't kill my students makes them stronger. i left a LOT of sweat on that dojo floor! they had to mop my spot at the end of class :-) i stopped when i popped my first disk in my lower back.

i think the training enabled me to handle what i'm up against now better. i'm mentally tougher and my pain tolerance is much higher.

i have good flexibility and balance... and i know i'm stronger (not as strong as i was when training, of course). i've started tai-chi several times but can't put enough classes in a row to complete tai-chi 1. band practices keep getting in the way.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Casca Grossa » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:56 pm

Weight distribution is a big factor. A fifty pound bag of concrete could be carried in a way that is much more comfortable and causes less strain then maybe hauling around a shoulder strap gig bag and the various clutter that goes along with you that weighs half as much. Leverage is a factor too. I am a lifelong martial artist and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Leverage is everything in that art. I could easily throw an opponent twice my weight if my technique is good. I can also put myself in the hospital with knee and back injuries throwing a person half my weight with less than perfect technique.
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby Three Valves » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:07 pm

All this talk is making me hungry. I have a calzone to pick up.

Wish me luck!!
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Re: tubas' weights, old guys, and bad backs

Postby lost » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:33 pm

I had chronic back problems in my 20's stemming from sleeping on a mattress that was bad. Mostly acute pulls from side sleeping.
Check your mattresses people. Too soft for side sleeping is no good!

My 30's were great with no back problems. Being a newly crowned 40 year old, I have been hitting the gym more and wondering if marching in parades with a big horns is smart given my age. So far no problems, but I do imagine a dismal day when I go fiberglass.
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