post practice ice baths

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

post practice ice baths

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:23 pm

If I've been playing a lot I've taken to plunging my hands into an ice bath for a few minutes afterwards. it seems to help with recovery. Basketball players and other athletes will do this after their games. However, I also have a tendency to do stupid things that seemed like a good idea at the time. Does anybody have advice/warnings about doing this (like, repeated ice baths lead to bone deterioration or something along those lines.)

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Big bird
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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Big bird » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:51 pm

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I am old, an ex-athlete, still very active and an ice junkie. IMHO, there isn't a downside to what you are doing given you don't ice your hands for more than 20 minutes give or take. Relieves inflamation, increases blood flow.... I think your fine.
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Chris Sobel
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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Chris Sobel » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:03 pm

Jeffrey,

I spent most of the last decade working in a particular field of medicine, and working out at a high level, that ice has become a very familiar friend to me, and one I prescribe often to others…

The ice reduces inflammation in the area that's iced, so what you're experiencing is a reduction in post-exercise inflammation, which speeds up your recovery in the sense that less inflammation leads to less tissue breakdown, and a better overall environment for your muscles and connective tissue to recover. This is a very well documented and studied area of medicine--they're even now taking it to the next level by putting cardiac transplant patients in a semi-hypothermic state on ice because it slows everything down in a favorable way so to speak...

The main two things with icing are the risk of low grade frost bite and connective tissue injury after icing. Basically don't leave your skin in direct contact with ice for an hour… fairly straight forward there. If you're doing it for 15-30 minutes you should be fine. The other issue is that after icing, your connective tissue is not as limber as it was before, and in a sense more brittle. So immediately using your iced hands to do intensive work is probably not a good idea as the risk of injury is higher. I can't say for how long; pretty much for however long it takes your hands to warm back up, so I'm sure you can use discretion there.

The only other judgement call to make with ice is that it's not right for every situation. The stiff shoulder or neck you have in the morning might be better served by a little heat in the shower rather than an ice pack, because that's not primarily an inflammation situation. But it sounds like how your using it is good to go.

Regards,

Chris
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Butch Alan

Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Butch Alan » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:48 pm

After practice I dip my hands in an ice cube tray and make myself a nice scotch on the rocks. (Just to relieve inflammation of course)

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souldier
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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by souldier » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:54 pm

I think a critical thing is to also play with minimal tension in the left hand. If our left hand is extremely fatigued and sore at the end of practice, it could be that the guitar needs adjustment or one needs to apply less unnecessary tension in the left hand. When I first began guitar, I was putting so much tension that my fingertips looked like they got chewed up. Now I sometimes am surprised as to how little tension is actually needs to play most parts of a piece.
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Big bird
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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Big bird » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:21 pm

Butch Alan wrote:After practice I dip my hands in an ice cube tray and make myself a nice scotch on the rocks. (Just to relieve inflammation of course)
Medicinal purposes, yea I get that........
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2015 ESTEVE 7SR - 650/52 Spruce/EIRW
2016 ESTEVE 8 - 650/52 Cedar/EIRW
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ronjazz
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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by ronjazz » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:50 am

Seems extreme for guitar-playing, but the opinions of those with experience show no harm in it. However, if you think you need it, you may want to consult a teacher or two and have your guitar checked over. In playing an instrument, pain = no gain.
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Butch Alan

Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Butch Alan » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:00 am

Hey Big bird, long live the Esteve 7sr,,,,,, and scotch of course. (You know,, that inflammation thing I mentioned before, oh yeah, don't forget the ice part.)

Jeffrey Armbruster

Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:03 am

Oh yeah, no pain, no pain is my motto! It's not a question of pain in my left hand, just tiredness and stiffness the next morning if I play for several hours over several days. Honestly, the icing seems to help--although I just ice for several minutes; I don't have a lot of patience! But as I age I also hope that this will be a pro-active way of warding off tendonitis or arthritis. I'm probably over thinking this.

But, does no one here feel fatigue after several hours of practice, and some stiffness if you pick up the guitar early on the next day?

I'll stipulate that I need to work on relaxing tension in both my hands.

My guitar set up is excellent.

Butch Alan

Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Butch Alan » Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:54 am

I know everyone is different but I try to relax my hands with a good warm-up and a good warm-up differs from one person to the next. Sometimes I feel some discomfort initially but it tends to dissipate as I go along, I'm no doctor but after warm-ups I try to concentrate on the music. After a certain age, every pain seems to create a paranoia. But again, everyone must find their own 'safe place'.

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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by robert e » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:49 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote: But, does no one here feel fatigue after several hours of practice, and some stiffness if you pick up the guitar early on the next day?
I'm sure you're not talking about the general morning stiffness that goes away with warmup, as ice wouldn't affect that. But that's a lot of practice! Anyone would be fatigued if those several hours were consecutive. This is enough time that you'd need to manage your physical and mental fatigue. "No pain, no gain", OK, but listen to what the pain is telling you.

If you practice while sitting, like most of us, then it's good to get up every twenty minutes or so--stretch, walk a few steps, stretch, flex and rub the hands. If possible, combine with breathing, voice, and face relaxation. All that takes less than 30 seconds. After an hour, the break should be at least a few minutes.

I've read that after two hours, the benefits of additional practice begin to diminish, and musicians benefit from a substantial break between hours two and three, meaning putting the instrument down and doing something completely different for at least an hour, ideally including sleep. This allows mind and body to recover, and the brain to assimilate new learning.

Jeffrey Armbruster

Re: post practice ice baths

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:56 pm

I do warm ups initially; I do play each evening over several hours but I rest for some minutes every 15 minutes or so. I also get up and walk around. There may be something to the existence of an upper limit to practicing, beyond which one's playing becomes sloppy and possibly counter productive.

I don't feel pain when playing, or if I do I stop.

Isn't there a quote by Barrios that goes something like, "I practiced for eight hours a day for years and now they call me a genius."

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Re: post practice ice baths

Post by robert e » Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:12 pm

I love the quote!

Well, if it works for you, great. It seems that no one sees anything harmful in your moderate use of ice. Glenn Gould used to dunk his hands in hot water before playing, but I hadn't heard of ice use after, though I'm not surprised. I think we can all use more work on relaxing tension, in the hands and elsewhere (tension tends to spread from one part to another), no matter what level we've reached.

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