Health Hazard Alert: Head-Banging May Hurt Your Brain

By Boonsri Dickinson | January 6, 2009 1:38 pm

headbangingIt’s bad enough that loud music can potentially harm your hearing. But now it turns out that head-banging, a violent and rapid form of dancing, can put you at risk for brain injury, whiplash, and even stroke.

There have been isolated reports of head-banging injuries in the past: When guitarist Terry Balsamo of Evanescence had a stroke, his doctors attributed it to his on-stage thrashing. But until now, scientists really haven’t studied the effects of head-banging since it first started back in 1968 with Led Zeppelin.

According to Australian risk and safety researchers Declan Patton and Andrew McIntosh from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, head-banging is pretty much guaranteed to give you brain damage if you’re not careful. To test their theory, the researchers went to a variety of metal and hard rock concerts (the best way to test any scientific theory) and observed the head-thrashing techniques used by artists.

Then they created a “theoretical head-banging model” and plugged in various possible head angles and intensities. Using the top 11 “head-banging songs” chosen by a focus group, they measured an average tempo of 146 beats per minute, which they combined with head-banging arcs of more than 75 degrees from a person’s upright stance. They concluded that the typical death-metal tempo combined with a head-banging arc of at least 45 degrees will likely “cause mild head and neck injury.”

So is there hope for death-metal lovers? Yes, according to Patton and McIntosh, who offer the following advice:

“To minimize 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.”

 Image: flickr/Persian Catwoman

MORE ABOUT: brain injury, music, risk
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  • Martin g

    This isn’t the first head-banging inquiry by the research team :

    They previously investigated ‘ Headbanging as Resistance or Refuge: A Cathartic Account ‘ in 2007

    Details here :

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  • Some One

    Is discover magazine now working for the onion?

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  • michael

    Headbanging is NOT a dance. If you’re going to classify headbanging as a dance, you have to classify “clapping” as a dance too. Why don’t you do a study of how clapping is damaging the circulation in people’s hands? Idiots.

  • jk2tyme

    what’s the piont of enjoying heavy metal, if you cant head-bang …….

  • a bit late

    Only about 20 year too late..

  • meathead

    good head banging is homo

  • crakarz

    Ya we could replace heavy metal with adult oriented rock, except that adult oriented rock sucks. I’ll take the brain damage. Why live to think in a world that doesn’t think enough anyway?

  • lolol

    id liek sum headbanging protective equipment plz

  • docmah

    I wonder what the top 11 songs chosen were…

  • will rule

    Even considering “adult-oriented rock” as an alternative to metal means that these “safety researchers” are already drain-bamamged. They must have been head-bangin’….

  • Justin

    Hmm.. lets look at the definition:

     /dæns, dɑns/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [dans, dahns]
    verb, danced, danc⋅ing, noun
    –verb (used without object)
    1. to move one’s feet or body, or both, rhythmically in a pattern of steps, esp. to the accompaniment of music.
    2. to leap, skip, etc., as from excitement or emotion; move nimbly or quickly: to dance with joy.
    3. to bob up and down: The toy sailboats danced on the pond.

    With headbanging, you certainly move your body, move quickly, and bob up and down. I would say that headbanging fits into the definition of dance. Idiot.

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  • Randdrum

    Well crap … no more head banging. Guess I’ll have to bang Ho’s instead !!!

  • WhiskeyNelson

    “replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock”

    Did Scott Stap become a scientist? I bet Nickelback helped fund this study!

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  • maureen

    Hey….what’s wrong with nickelback???? They are headbang worthy :) …Anyway…maybe we should change this subject to mosh pits instead of head banging….my neck is usually sore for a couple days…but i always get all busted up in mosh pits (gotta love them though). Anyway…sometimes my brain needs a little vibration…it makes it feel better…there’s something to be said for not thinking TOO much.

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  • jordan

    heavy metal will never be replaced by adult orient rock!! only adults older than 35 would like that stuff

  • jordan

    and for all my readers out there i love u all and no im not gay!!!

  • jordan


  • jsmitty

    I agree wit jk2tyme…whats the point of listenin to heavy metal music if you can headbang to it and enjoy yourself…I say SCREW YOU Ill take the brain damage!!! HEAVY METAL TILL I DIE!!!! I also agree wit jordan…Heavy Metal will NEVER EVER be replaced by adult orient rock….that shits for wussies!!! POWER TO THE HEADBANG!!!!

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  • Pretty Things Vids

    Thanks for this, enjoyed the read, I must improve my blog like yours.

  • Erfan

    according to my researches headbanging is the best sport and best fun and it turn your brain on and it’s good very good !!!

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  • Really?

    Looked all over E-bay for head-banging protective gear. Maybe because the people who studied this should be curing… Oh, I don’t know. AIDs? Cancer? Swine Flu? Fucking failures.

  • idiots!!!!!!!assholes!!!!!!!!!

    i wouldnt listen to metal i fi wanted to listen to adult oriented rock , oh and another thingim twelve i could have told you this assholes ur wasting ur time i agree with really? go try and do something useful like study aids or cancer

  • Tuané

    Head banging is to us like alcohol to a drunk. Death metal speaks to us like Christ to lunatics. Head banging is a way of escape of forgetting worries and sorrows. It makes us happy, if it hurts or not. Smoking is dangerous too, but do they discontinue tobacco? So, thanx for the concern, thanx for the info and please leave it at that.

  • psY

    Man, is my neck killing me!! i indulge in extreme aggressive head-banging from time to time, and usually the pain persists for around 3-4 days. But this time i was seeing stars while headf-banging. Its been one week now, and still the pain does not subside. so i googled to see if it was something serious. i am none the wiser, but enjoyed raeding this blog!! keep on head-banging…

  • T

    No s**t. Do these morons have nothing worth while to report on?

    [Moderator’s note: edited the cuss word.]

  • michebb

    lol, dude my neck is killing me too! I think that was my last extreme aggressive headbanging experience of my life…. well that’s what I say now;) But it feels so good in the moment- sad to think I can;t thrash my head around no more to a great band. this blog cracks me up- keep on rockin!!!

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  • chris

    headbangin is a part of metal, i cant listen to metal and not headbang, what the hell would we listen to adult oriented rock for, it sucks balls

  • Metal Angel

    Yes, headbanging feels so good during the song you are into. I have been headbanging since 1992, I fell in love with heavy metal at the age of 15. Whiplash? yes. Once I was so energized by Danzig’s “Mother ’93” I threw my back out during the headbanging. No, I will not listen to AOR. I will not stop. I AM METAL AND THIS IS WHAT I LOVE. Get over it.

  • figured it out!

    Sounds like shaken baby syndrome. I can tell you all already have it!

  • Niller

    Bahhh!! If i want to headbang i’ll do it! Besides the music, headbanging is the way to make a great spirit to the concerts. serious, if there is no headbanging to a metal concert, then the band really sucks!!!
    Why doe’s anyone try to stop headbanging? When we headbang, we know the consequences, but we don’t care beacause it’s a part of the metal!! No matter how much they try to stop it, it will never stop.

  • david

    yes headbanging can hurt you because if i do it my head starts to hurt really bad

  • Austin

    Did they really suggest replacing metal?
    Do they not realize that we headbang bewcause of the metal? We do it for the music, not the actualy act of headbanging.

  • Elijah

    It is clear from the lack of insight and IQ of some of the morons defending this stupid act of headbanging, that any research suggesting brain damage as a result of banging your head to heavy metal must be 100% correct. I bet you that headbanging and IQ or sanity is directly related. The more you bang your head, the lower your IQ or general mental health

  • Matthew

    Interesting observation about IQ and headbanging. I just wonder what comes first, the chicken or the egg? A low intellect will bang or swing his head… and banging will lead to a lower intellect. The more the metal- head the less the brain- head

    It is like the size of the hole in some asshole’s exhaust on his car… the size of the hole in the exhaust and the noise that it makes normally reflects the size of the hole in the head of the owner

    The louder the noise, the emtier the head

  • Mustaine_is_god666

    matthew I disagre, just because someone head bangs it doesn’t mean that they’ll have a low IQ. I’m a metal head and headbang quite frequently yet I’m in college studying sciences and doin extremely well. Last time I checked people with empty head can’t understand calculus and microbiology


      you don’t have to be smart to understand biology, if anything the trauma to your head could merely be making your brain submissive to memorizing dumb stuff like bacteria names and R groups on amino acids. I’m probably in the same program as you, headbang to decapitated and kreator on a daily basis and am otherwise fucking retarded. Don’t be like me guys

  • NotMyName

    Yeah, let’s discuss terms definitions, since THAT is what the article is about…. ¬¬
    I hope you get brain damage because of this, moron! – My bad… by your comment, you already have.

  • Music_9977

    Ah the old headbanging makes you dumb myth… Well I can tell you now that I use to be in a death metal band and have done my share of headbanging.. and now I’m in university and have almost completed my bachelors in aerospace engineering and have received A’s in calculus and physics. Though I never blacked out during my headbanging days… my neck was sometimes sore afterwards and was hard to keep my head up.. but went away the next day.. sometimes I feel like I’ve experienced brain trauma… but I think I’m just a hypochondriac.. I don’t know.. you tell me what you think.

  • Ash

    The type of music doesn’t matter just don’t head bang all night

  • Jakob

    I could just imagine metalheads at a concert slowly tapping their heads at every second beat


  • scramo

    Im FUCKED!

  • MegadethSucks

    Are you SERIOUS??? Replace metal? Over my dead body! And I agree with michael, it’s not a dance. Ok so maybe I’ll be more careful next time, but I’m NOT stopping entirely. Too much fun. And what are these ‘top 11’ songs?

  • Sandra Elizabeth

    What protective equipment would that be…?


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