Sad news, metal lovers: German scientists have found that headbanging can be harmful, and can even potentially make your brain bleed. Wait, so you mean that whipping my head back and forth to loud music for hours on end is actually bad for me? Shocking. On the upside, though, the scientists also officially confirmed that Motorhead is “one of the most hardcore rock’n’roll acts on Earth.” So…rock on?
Veteran headbangers will know that there’s more than one way to headbang out there. It’s not just a vigorous nod; it’s a whole body experience. There’s the windmill. There’s the headslam. (If you want the definitive guide on just how to headbang, here’s a handy cheat sheet.) Unsurprisingly, these things are not good for you — your brain just wasn’t built to slosh around in your skull toAce Of Spades. And science has confirmed as much in a study published in The Lancet Thursday.
The study details the case of a 50-year-old metalhead who went to the doctors at Hannover Medical School last year with a headache that just wouldn’t go away. A head scan found a chronic subdural hematoma — otherwise known as bleeding in the brain. But the cause was a mystery, until they found out that he’d been at a Motorhead concert with his son less than a month before. “He had no history of head trauma, but reported headbanging at a Motörhead concert 4 weeks previously,” says the study.
The man’s clot had to be removed via a hole drilled into his skull — shudder — and then draining the brain for just under a week. Although the man recovered completely, doctors confirmed that “headbanging, with its brisk forward and backward acceleration and deceleration forces, led to rupturing of bridging veins causing hemorrhage.” Ouch.
Before you cancel your Fourth of July rave, bear in mind the case is one of only four others in which headbanging has led to serious brain injury. As theGuardian reports, there have been three other documented incidents of headbanging leading to blood clots — one of them led to a sudden death. More common medical issues, though, are things like whiplash and sore necks.
Said the scientists: “This case serves as evidence in support of Motorhead’s reputation as one of the most hardcore rock’n’roll acts on Earth, if nothing else because of their music’s contagious speed drive and the hazardous potential for headbanging fans to suffer brain injury.”
Hardcore and metal certainly go together, but other types of music are also risky in their own ways. Just two weeks ago, a teen lost his finger and kept dancing at a London rave; just over a week ago, an Avicii concert sent 36 fans to hospital with injuries relating to drugs and alcohol intoxication.
“We are not against headbanging,” said Dr Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian, one of the doctors who treated the headbanger. “The risk of injury is very, very low. But I think if [the patient] had gone to a classical concert, this would not have happened.” So you might think, Dr. Islamian — but classical music concertscan get a lil’ wild too, sometimes.