Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...

Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby Luis_Br » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:23 pm

It is probably the posture and mechanism of playing. I recommend a good teacher or a good therapist.

RaphaelPazos wrote:So strange that clenching your jaw would cause shoulder pain....

Actually it is not that strange. The brain is very economical. It may keep a lot information together to make it easier to memorize. If you always tense your shoulder and your jaw when palying something difficult or demanding, your brain will save those things as the same "memory". So when you think the passage is difficult, you bring that memory and tense shoulder and jaw altogether.
If you focus relaxing one thing you may brake the pattern and you loose all associated tensions. So if you simply relax your jaw you may relax the shoulder together and vice-versa. If you simply relax and breath deeply and think with another mood, without anxiety, tension or without thinking the passage is difficult, you may get rid of those tensions without even thinking about the jaw or shoulder.
You may also do massages to the muscles, to increase your perception and relax them.
Another think is to deliberately move or tense the problematic area while playing, and then relax it. For example, you hold a chord tightly while you move your shoulder in circular motion. Then relax the shoulder while keeping the chord tight. Feel the relaxing and the contrast. The objective is simply to notice what are the sholder muscles and what are the fingers muscles, so you can learn to detach them when you want to.
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby AndreiKrylov » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:10 pm

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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby Luis_Br » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:53 pm

For me when I play the music I am not thinking on all those things for sure. After working on them for a while they became habit and they are "automatic".
But IMO the process of building up the technique recquires working on all those things in deep detail in order to construct the best possible habit, so you can play easily and then you are really free to focus on the music, because your body easily responds your musical requests.
I also enjoy the details of building up the technique. Classical music is very demanding, I don't know any player to a high level degree of virtuosity who does not enjoy working on the smallest detail that may generate better musical results, from nail shape to body posture.
Of course all the effort is to accomplish musical results. I don't have any problem working several minutes just trying to find the right angle and hand position to play a chord with certain sound color. The same way I don't have any problem working several minutes trying to relax some tension I had noticed, because I know it will allow me better control of the sound dynamics and it will allow me play for more time without health problems. So at the end I do this for the same reason: because I can enjoy more the musical result I get from it.
If you can really deeply relax without ever thinking on all those details, and then you can play virtuosistic pieces, like playing tremolo for a long period of time with detailed dynamics control, without any pain, congratulations. I recommend you keep doing it, you probably don't need a teacher and I would like to learn from watching you play. But for sure you are one of a kind and you really have an incredible innate control of your body.
Last edited by Luis_Br on Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby lagartija » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:43 pm

For most people, Luis_Br's advice is right on the money, as usual. Noticing the details and self correcting or having a teacher help with corrections for things you don't see, is in my opinion the path to playing with greatest ease and pleasure. Noticing the details of your playing does not automatically fill one with worry. It surely doesn't for me. If something is not going right musically, looking for what is going wrong and fixing it so I can play musically with greater ease and freedom is exactly what I find fascinating and rewarding about my classical guitar journey.
Don't worry.... be happy! :lol:
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby kkruecke » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:58 pm

I'm not doctor, but I've had four shoulder surgeries (which interrupted my playing for ten years). I don't know if this will help, but you might try shoulder pendulum exercises, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V57uoLgsq04&feature=related
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby AndreiKrylov » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:37 pm

.
Last edited by AndreiKrylov on Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby Luis_Br » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:27 pm

I use 3 approaches for this:
1 - automassage;
It helps locating the muscles place and knowing them.
It helps relaxing the muscles deeper.
It activates the blood circulation helping warmup and healing processes.
For those three reasons it is a great tool to enhance kinaesthetic perception and physical abilities.

2 - passive motion exercises.
The shoulder video is a passive motion exercise.
Another good one is to sit relaxed and let the whole arm and hand fall relaxed. Then you ask someone else to move your whole arm in wide circular motion holding from your finger tip. Do it with each finger individually. You must let al joints flexible and relaxed and you we feel better what moving fingertip is all about while keeping everything relaxed.

3 - concurrent motion
You keep some muscles tensed while move the others you should relax. for example, you keep a chord tight and then you move shoulder in circular motion. Or you tense and relax shoulder while keeping chord tight. So you work on detaching those muscles deliberately.
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby amojobim » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:25 am

Hello everybody
thanks for your support and advice, I really appreciate it.
As far as my experience goes, I believe psychological and physical factors are highly related when playing an instrument, whatever the "level" you're playing at. I can tell you that my insecurities on the guitar started right after I got a tendinitis followed by an epicondilitis (aka tennis elbow), which lasted for a couple of years before I managed to get rid of it. I talk about insecurities because what happened to me, caused by excessive practice under stress conditions (I was graduating, doing an internship and studying a difficult tremolo all at the same time), led me to try and change my technique and my posture and, in the process, to accumulating tension in my jaw and shoulder in an effort to maintain the same technique level as before. As suggested, muscular memory is the worst kind: my technique became associated to that tension and now I have to work on my specific issues in very detail in order to get rid of them. That's a fact that I can't change. What I can and will change, is the way I play, or rather the conditions in which my body is when I'm playing, in order to regain the confidence, relaxation and technique that I had no more than about 6 years ago. And I think this is the lesson I have learned here: that I'm in control and if something is hurting I'm doing it to myself somehow and I need to change something. It's a very basic lesson but nonetheless very hard!
Anyway, if anybody knows any teacher in the State College (PA) area, I'd greatly appreciate that!
Thanks!
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Re: Right shoulder pain: posture or guitar size?

Postby Beth F-R » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:07 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote:
FHC wrote:
AndreiKrylov wrote:Did you try to play in standing position with a strap?


Andrei what strap would you recommend? Would this require drilling into the guitar?


Yes it will require drilling for buttons. But it is just small holes and when done properly and with nice buttons then it is look good too. I tried other setups in the past like strap through the soundhole or one button and connection with headstock, but guitar was unstable in those positions and soundhole setup was even dangerous for guitar... I know that there are many people who would rather have a back pain but would not make hole in the bottom of guitar ...


Hello all,

An alternative to installing a strap button is to attach a suction cup, available at any hardware store, to the bottom end the strap, and use rawhide strings (or shoelaces) to tie the strap to the headstock. Believe me, it works, and results in a very comfortable standing position. Just be sure to attach the suction cup firmly to the bottom of the guitar. Get a good quality, thick leather strap, or it may break over time.

Good luck,
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