Medical advice for head-bangers

The British Medical Journal investigates the health risks from head-banging and recommends protective gear and "adult-oriented rock":
Main outcome measures: Head Injury Criterion and Neck Injury Criterion were derived for head banging styles and both popular heavy metal songs and easy listening music controls.

Results: An average head banging song has a tempo of about 146 beats per minute, which is predicted to cause mild head injury when the range of motion is greater than 75°. At higher tempos and greater ranges of motion there is a risk of neck injury.

Conclusion: To minimise 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.

Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass (via JWZ)

(Image: Headbanging without the face, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jessebikman's photostream)


  1. Itsumishi, the study links to a further article whose title ranks just as high on the list:

    Drew, P. J (2009). ‘Mosh pit’ breast?

  2. The full horror of the study only becomes apparent when you get to this paragraph:

    Possible interventions to reduce the risk of injury caused by head banging include limiting the range of neck motion through a formal training programme delivered before a concert; substitution of adult oriented rock and easy listening music such as the controls, or others including Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Enya, and Richard Clayderman, for heavy metal; and personal protective equipment such as neck braces to limit range of motion.

    I think I’d rather beat myself to death with a George Foreman grill than be subjected to an evening of Richard Clayderman.

  3. Though exposure to head banging is enormous, opportunities are present to control this risk—for example, encouraging bands such as AC/DC to play songs like “Moon River” as a substitute for “Highway to Hell”

    This has got to be a joke.

    That said, I do recall hearing of a kid who did indeed die from head-banging (gave himself some sort of cerebral aneurysm apparently) at a Saxon concert in the UK in the 90’s, though I could find no evidence on the web about it.

  4. I always wondered if the incessant ‘banging would eventually spell an early grave for Angus Young in particular. Of course, that particular 55-year-old is in the middle of a 20-month world tour, and his head hasn’t fallen off yet.

    Anyway, substituting “Moon River” for “Highway To Hell” would have next to no effect anyway, since every other song in the setlist is just as headbangable as H2H.

    What disturbs my sleep is the vile fact that those safety-conscious folks who wear earplugs at rock shows and refrain from headbanging in the interest of moderation and long-term health may actually outlive those of us who actually BELONG at a rock show. I console myself with the thought that those dweebs are not often selected for breeding.

    I kid, mostly.

  5. In a related study, the authors recommended that hip-hop fans use proper ergonomic form when throwing their hands in the air, and that they should wave them as if they were fully cognisant of the potential consequences.

  6. I have occasional bouts of Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo which was diagnosed a few years ago when I had a particularly bad episode (probably exacerbated by being in a hot country on holiday and suffering some dehydration), but looking back I think I’ve had it on and off for 20 years – or since head banging to a great many metal bands in my early 20’s. Totally anecdotal of course, but a known cause is vascular damage to the labyrinth of the inner ear.

  7. I’ve met more than a few heavy metal fans that I thought should be wearing protective headgear…

  8. @dogwelder #8: Join the club! Threw it out during the first Lollapalooza tour during Cop Killer…

  9. What about the damage to your soul from listening to horrible music.

    Let the flaming begin!!

    1. What about the damage to your soul from listening to horrible music.

      You’re right. Listening to Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Enya, and Richard Clayderman are sure ways to become an empty shell of a human being.

    2. “What about the damage to your soul from listening to horrible music.”


      When I set-up your AOL account, you promised not to post comments at Boing-Boing.

  10. The safety Nazis are just getting started in the War On Moshing. Once they issue the bouncers with protractors things will start to get real ugly.

  11. Damn, I misread the headline as “Medical Advice *From* head-Bangers”. Color me disappointed.

  12. Swinging your head 75 degrees at 150 beats per minute? Wow. That’s a *lot* of head-banging. DO people really do that?

  13. So nobody noticed this is from the Christmas Edition, which is known for the spoof research published in it to amuse us over the dreary days of Christmas?

  14. Alternative method of prevention: listen to really really weird shit techdeath/technical metal where you’re too confused by the incessant beat changes to ever settle into a comfortable banging rhythm. Recommended starting bands: Cryptopsy, Spiral Architect, Unexpect, Behold! The Arctopus, or anything with Ron Jarzombek in it. Fucking Ron Jarzombek. He has a song called “A headache and a 64th”. The main beat loop is a 4/4 measure followed by a single 64th. I once met him and asked him how he pulled that kind of shit off, and he looked at me and said “with a pocket calculator.”

  15. Screw that, get some thrash or grindcore and snap the hell out of ya neck, I do it most days and love it. My neck is fine and I’ve been doing for 10 years if not longer.

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