Back pain

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
znerken
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Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:04 pm

Back pain

Post by znerken » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:11 pm

Hey everyone. I was hoping I could get some tips. I am experiencing upper back pain, which I am not quite able to locate 100%. It hurts when I breath, and I can feel that the source of the pain is the guitar. As soon as I pick up the guitar, I noticing the pain gradually approaching. After a short while I have to put the guitar away, as the pain is too much. The pain is located on the right side, and I believe somewhere around the middle right side, almost as high as shoulders.

I have tried trigger points with a ball, foam rolling, stretches and sling training. I even tried a break longer than one week several times, one with NSAID. Nothing helps. What to do?

PS:

I will visit a PT tomorrow, perhaps he can say something, but I highly doubt it.

PSS: I play with my legs crossed, and the guitar on my right leg. However, I have tried playing with it on the left leg and with a footstool. Didn't help.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Back pain

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:37 pm

Sorry to be brief - try a guitar rest. Footstool is often what reveals an underlying problem, even if its not the direct cause. Basically, overall it sounds on the face of it that your posture is very likely to blame.
Plus if you can find, Alexander Technique lessons. You don't mention having a tutor - very important too. If impossible regularly, I'd suggest have a consultation lesson with somebody even if you have to travel.
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Yogi Ponappa
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Re: Back pain

Post by Yogi Ponappa » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:33 am

Here's seconding what Stephen said about posture - and adding that you may be dealing with something I see quite a bit in the people I work with. You may want to check to see if it's an issue of missing core activation, which you could solve pretty easily away from the guitar by getting into a workout routine that improves the resting muscle tone of the anterior muscles that keep your spine upright, and allow the upper back muscles to remain relaxed (i.e. abs, pelvic floor, and transverse abdominus). You can quickly check if that's what's missing by sucking in your abdomen and playing for a bit - while that itself is not a sustainable way to play, it mimics what having better muscle activation in that area would feel like.
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Robert Rogers
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Re: Back pain

Post by Robert Rogers » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:03 am

I have a similar issue, and I agree yours likely stems from posture problems. I have a snapping scapula on the right side, coupled with arthritis and a nasty muscle spasm in my lower back. I've had surgery, multiple steroid injections, PT and acupuncture. I'm convinced that the posture problem I've had since I was young (I'm 62 now) has led to all of this and I'm treating it with specific exercises, which are helping. Acupuncture has also helped some, but the surgery and injections did nothing. I've also gone on a weight loss program, losing 45 lbs since last Spring. This has helped, as being over weight was contributing to the posture problem. Good luck to you.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Back pain

Post by AndreiKrylov » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:12 pm

Please try to play in standing position with strap. Strap should help.
I'd better speak by music...Please listen it on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. Thanks!

simonm
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Re: Back pain

Post by simonm » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:09 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:12 pm
Please try to play in standing position with strap. Strap should help.
Given that you also play steel string this should be easy and familiar for you. Unless of course you get similar pains playing the steel string.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Back pain

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:27 pm

simonm wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:09 pm
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:12 pm
Please try to play in standing position with strap. Strap should help.
Given that you also play steel string this should be easy and familiar for you. Unless of course you get similar pains playing the steel string.
steel strings? Sorry, NO...I did play long time ago... actually almost 25 years last time...
I'd better speak by music...Please listen it on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. Thanks!

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bear
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Re: Back pain

Post by bear » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:13 pm

Okay, so you are having back pain so you ask a bunch of guitar players for advice? I'm sorry, but maybe see a doctor? Breathing hurts, so it must be the guitar, couldn't be a pulmonary embolism, thrombosis, pleuritis, et.al..
spruce or cedar?
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jpryan
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Re: Back pain

Post by jpryan » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:51 pm

For years I had that same pain in the same area from playing guitar (just below my right shoulder blade). Sometimes it would be bad enough that I'd have to stop even after only 30 minutes of practice. The problem for me turned out to be excessive tension in the shoulders while practicing. It took some time to get used to paying attention to staying relaxed. Look for anything in your playing posture that causes tension, especially in your arms and shoulders. Try to notice it while practicing and intentionally relax when you feel tension anywhere. Occasionally stretching areas when I started to notice tension helped. During the process (it took many months) I ended up lowering my footstool, keeping my left arm more relaxed and forward, my back straighter, and relaxing my right upper arm and shoulder. I always use a music stand, but if you don't then hanging your head down to look at music could cause tension as well. Your problem areas might be different. Stay diligent. Good luck.
--John

astro64
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Re: Back pain

Post by astro64 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:47 pm

If it is the guitar...legs crossed, guitar on the right leg, means right shoulder goes up, left shoulder down, could be a problem. I certainly can't play that way, even if many can. But as others have noted, it might not be the guitar. A footstool causes other problems for the back, as noted, so get a guitar support and keep both feet flat on the floor, and the shoulders horizontal and relaxed.

znerken
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Re: Back pain

Post by znerken » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:31 pm

astro64 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:47 pm
If it is the guitar...legs crossed, guitar on the right leg, means right shoulder goes up, left shoulder down, could be a problem. I certainly can't play that way, even if many can. But as others have noted, it might not be the guitar. A footstool causes other problems for the back, as noted, so get a guitar support and keep both feet flat on the floor, and the shoulders horizontal and relaxed.

I am 100% sure it is the guitar. I can feel the pain going away when taking break from guitar, and I can feel it approaching as soon as I pick up the guitar. If I rest my back at the end/back of the chair, I can also feel the pain somewhat reduced. I wonder if playing the guitar standing up could be helpful, perhaps.

As for "go see a doctor!". I don't know with you, but where I live, the doctor would just send me to an expert, with a looooong waiting list. I am already at the physio therapist, but as he say himself; "it's very hard to know where in the body the pain is coming from, and how to treat it".

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bear
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Re: Back pain

Post by bear » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:14 pm

znerken wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:31 pm


As for "go see a doctor!". I don't know with you, but where I live, the doctor would just send me to an expert, with a looooong waiting list. I am already at the physio therapist, but as he say himself; "it's very hard to know where in the body the pain is coming from, and how to treat it".
Sorry if I was a little insensitive. Three years ago, exactly, my wife had part of her lung removed. She had back pain, similar to what you describe. She went to a clinic and was told that she was developing a Pneumonia (mis-diagnosed). She was given medicine to treat the "Pneumonia", and sent on her way.
After a week with no improvement she went to her personal physician who had an x-ray taken. Based on what the x-ray showed, she was then sent to a pulmonary specialist. She had a partially collapsed lung, not Pneumonia.
Further test revealed a genetically inherited lung disease. This disease had never been identified in her family and a year after her diagnosis, her cousin died from it. Six months later another cousin. Today, a third cousin wears an oxygen mask 24/7.
Her cousins and other family members exhibited symptoms years before my wife's diagnosis. They accepted whatever B.S. diagnosis was handed out and just lived (died) with the symptoms. A proper diagnosis, would have identified the disease, spared my wife the surgery and allowed her to get treatment before she became symptomatic.
CHUCK BERRY
"You Never Can Tell"

It was a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell
"C'est la vie," say the old folks, "it goes to show you never can tell"

They furnished off an apartment with a 2-room Roebuck sale
The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale,
But when Pierre found work, the little money comin' worked out well
"C'est la vie," say the old folks, "it goes to show you never can tell"

They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast
700 little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz
But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell
"C'est la vie," say the old folks, "it goes to show you never can tell"

They bought a souped-up jitney, was a cherry red '53
And drove it down to Orleans to celebrate their anniversary
It was there where Pierre was wedded to the lovely mademoiselle
"C'est la vie," say the old folks, "it goes to show you never can tell"

They had a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell
"C'est la vie," say the old folks, "it goes to show you never can tell"
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Giustina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

Dylan
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Re: Back pain

Post by Dylan » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:02 pm

I dealt with back pain for a long time and it had to do with posture. I tried using a footstool and that did not help. Then I switched to a suction cup stand for the guitar that sticks on the side and the pain disappeared immediately. The stand-thing is called a gitano, but there are many variations out there. I included a link below. It was unbelievable. I know that this isn't exactly how it will work with everyone but the difference was incredible. Also, Alexander Technique applications will greatly help you. I hope this helps.

http://www.classicalguitarreview.com/gi ... r-support/

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andreas777
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Re: Back pain

Post by andreas777 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:26 pm

If I understand you right you already feel back pain when you just sit relaxed in your posture and hold the guitar? Or do you have to play to feel the pain? And are there really no other activities where you feel the same pain, only when you pick up the guitar?
Happiness is when what you think what you say and what you do are in harmony.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Back pain

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:53 pm

znerken wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:31 pm
astro64 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:47 pm
If it is the guitar...legs crossed, guitar on the right leg, means right shoulder goes up, left shoulder down, could be a problem. I certainly can't play that way, even if many can. But as others have noted, it might not be the guitar. A footstool causes other problems for the back, as noted, so get a guitar support and keep both feet flat on the floor, and the shoulders horizontal and relaxed.

I am 100% sure it is the guitar. I can feel the pain going away when taking break from guitar, and I can feel it approaching as soon as I pick up the guitar. If I rest my back at the end/back of the chair, I can also feel the pain somewhat reduced. I wonder if playing the guitar standing up could be helpful, perhaps.

As for "go see a doctor!". I don't know with you, but where I live, the doctor would just send me to an expert, with a looooong waiting list. I am already at the physio therapist, but as he say himself; "it's very hard to know where in the body the pain is coming from, and how to treat it".
Try the standing position although it may take some time to become accustomed to it. One advantage is that it's easy to move around which helps to prevent a stiff immobile position.
Historicalguitars.

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