The hazards of headbanging

By • Published: March 16th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What’s the best way to fully appreciate grinding guitar riffs and rapid-fire drums? To the average metalhead, the answer is summed up simply by Quiet Riot’s 1983 song “Bang Your Head.”

Headbanging has become synonymous with heavy metal. But a new study shows that metal fans might want to find a new way to show their love for guitar solos and growling lyrics.

It turns out that thrashing your head around to Metallica may not actually be so good for your neck or for your brain. At the least, headbanging can cause dizziness. At the worst… a stroke.

A team of Australian researchers studied what happens during headbanging, discovering a delicate balance that seems to determine when injury will occur.

Because most metal songs have fast tempos, averaging at one-hundred-and-forty-six beats per minute, the typical headbanger bobs his or her head much faster than if, say, Celine Dion songs were playing. Of course, the other part of the equation is how exactly the head moves. Nodding up and down at a fifty-degree angle isn’t going to be nearly as problematic as thrashing your head up and down at an eighty-degree angle. Researchers say that headbanging in this fashion to an average-speed metal song can cause headaches and dizziness. After that, the faster the song, the worse the injury.

So what’s a headbanger to do? Doctors suggest wearing neck braces or rocking to slower songs. Cheer up, metalheads, at least devil horns never go out of style.