Rock fans who risk head and neck injuries when headbanging in time to heavy-metal music could reduce harm by wearing a protective brace or changing their musical taste, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

The study revealed that an average headbanging song with a tempo of 146 beats a minute will likely cause mild head injury when the head's range of motion is greater than 75 degrees.

At higher tempos and greater ranges of motion there is an exponential rise in the risk of neck injury, according to UNSW injury expert Andrew McIntosh.

Many hard-rock and heavy-metal bands play fast-tempo songs, such as Spinal Tap's Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight and Kickstart My Heart by glam metal band Mötley Crüe, both at about 180 beats a minute.

"Possible preventive interventions include limiting the range of neck motion through a formal training program delivered before a concert, switching to easy-listening music like Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Enya and Richard Clayderman, and using personal protective equipment, such as neck braces, to limit range of motion," says McIntosh, who co-authored the paper with Declan Patton.

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Media contacts: Dr Andrew McIntosh | 0400 403 678 or Dan Gaffney | | 0411 156 015