Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal

British Medical Journal
Objective To investigate the risks of mild traumatic brain injury and neck injury associated with head banging, a popular dance form accompanying heavy metal music.

Design Observational studies, focus group, and biomechanical analysis.

Participants Head bangers.

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.

Tags: ,

11 Responses:

  1. azul_ros says:

    I'm not surprised by this. Every time I attended a rock concert & watched both fans & musicians I couldn't help but wonder how much it affected their brains. I did a little bit of head banging back in the day, but not like those touring musicians!

  2. autopope says:

    It's the BMJ and their editors' whacky sense of humour again.

    (Last year they ran a paper in which some medics in all seriousness proposed to ban pointy kitchen knives because nobody needs a point on a knife used for preparing food, and they cause lots of injuries. Me, I'm assuming the medics in question think that food magically appears in hospital canteens in response to the correct invocation.)

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, how are those fancy new safety-first pint glasses working out over there?

      • autopope says:

        The flimsy plastic ones are ubiquitous in live music venues, for hopefully-obvious reasons.

        The suggestion that less-flimsy plastic ones replace glass in pubs and clubs has been received with howls of rage by the drinking public, and has mostly not gone anywhere.

        Toughened glass is available, but the glasses cost more so a lot of publicans are reluctant to cough up for them -- a short-termist attitude which strikes me as kind of silly, given the regular breakage rate would go down if they upgraded.

        None of this affects the real cause of alcohol-fueled crime, which is neds getting tanked up on off-license sales from supermarkets and picking fights in the streets.

    • zimpenfish says:


      In their original article, the doctors argue that most preparation can be done using a combination of a "blunt, round nose" knife and another which, although sharp, is also short enough (under 5cm) to render it less likely to be lethal if used as a weapon.

      They're quite happy for people to use pointy knives for cooking, just not great big fatal wound killing ones. Can't blame them either, they're the ones dealing with the crap in A&E every Saturday night.

    • bos31337 says:

      You need to start reading more Christmas issues of the BMJ if you think that was serious. (Hint: look at the date of the article Jamie posted a link to.)

    • tecknicaltom says:

      and proving that no matter how much of a joke an idea is, somebody will take it seriously: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/06/anti-stab_knife.html

  3. tiger0range says:

    ...Most of us are over thirty. How should it come as a surprise that many of the things we did as teenagers were stupid and could have killed us or at least made us miserable for the rest of our lives.

    I remember one of the *reasons* some people head banged was because the mild concussion gave them a buzz. It was a broke ass teenager's malt liquor.

  4. skyhawk92e says:

    I did headbang so hard once my neck hurt for days... I think it was one of those "Hey, while you're not totally old yet, you're not as young as you used to be" moments.