Right hand gets numb after half an hour of playing

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

Right hand gets numb after half an hour of playing

Post by Naheed » Thu May 03, 2007 4:25 pm

I have been learning classical and flamenco guitar for one and a half years now and I never had this issue of having my right hand get numb after half an hour of playing in the classical position.

This always happens to me when I play in the flamenco position. What's wierd now is it is happening in the reverse when I play classical sitting position my hands gets numb and not on the flamenco.

could this be I need adjustment on how I sit? I have also been doing at least half an hour of tremolo exercises every other day for the last 3 weeks.

Appreciate your thoughts

Naheed

SyedAdnan10

Post by SyedAdnan10 » Thu May 03, 2007 5:56 pm

i used to have the same problem when i practiced in the normal position.i practice with an acoustic steel guitar.however,i practice in a classical position now and my right hand doesn't get numb anymore.as far as i know flamenco guitars are also played in classical position.is that so?if yes even then in my opinion the classical position is the best posture to classical or flamenco music.if you are having problems in classical position then i think you need to adjust your posture carefully.and playing in one fixed position is best i think.

dan711

Post by dan711 » Fri May 04, 2007 1:56 pm

Make sure that your UPPER arm is not resting on the guitar, as this will cut off circulation and cause numbness. Classical position would have the LOWER arm (just below the elbow) resting on the guitar, which is mostly muscle. Some Flamenco players practically tuck the guitar under their armpit, but I've seen many use straps to lessen the pressure of the guitar on the upper arm.

Worst case scenario is you could be developing some carpal tunnel syndrome...

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mverive
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Post by mverive » Sat May 05, 2007 1:11 am

Exactly what part(s) of the hand go numb? The three main nerves to the hand (median, radial, and ulnar) have different areas that they innervate, and by knowing what parts of the hand go numb, it's easier to determine where the problem lies.

Also, does any other part of the arm get numb, and do any fingers, hand, or arm get weak as well?

I'll find some public-domain images (or royalty free images) of the hand/arm to help describe the anatomy a bit better.

Natan

Post by Natan » Sat May 05, 2007 1:45 am

mverive wrote: I'll find some public-domain images (or royalty free images) of the hand/arm to help describe the anatomy a bit better.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_anatomy
see Arm — Elbow — Wrist — Hand — Fingers — Thumb
Will pictures there help?

ksemerick

Post by ksemerick » Sat May 05, 2007 5:48 am

Do you play with a straight or bent wrist ala Segovia and others? I have heard that bending the wrist (in either plane) can cause or aggravate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It may not occur in all players, but straightening my wrist eliminated a lot of right hand pain and fatigue problems, and gave me a warmer tone to boot. It makes sense when you think about the physiology.

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mverive
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Post by mverive » Sat May 05, 2007 12:09 pm

Natan wrote:
mverive wrote: I'll find some public-domain images (or royalty free images) of the hand/arm to help describe the anatomy a bit better.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_anatomy
see Arm — Elbow — Wrist — Hand — Fingers — Thumb
Will pictures there help?
Some of those pictures are helpful. Depending on what symptoms the original poster has, more pictures may be needed.

hello_me

Post by hello_me » Fri May 11, 2007 11:26 pm

hey ksemerick,
I play with a straight position and am having trouble keeping it from tensing. I can see why people play with a bent wrist. I have been in masterclasses where students have been told to bend there wrist to keep it relaxed so as not to tense it. Now, I dont do it that way because you get carpal tunnel, but I am wondering how you play with a straight wrist keeping your muscles completely relaxed.

jerseyjoe

Additional perspectives on thumb numbness

Post by jerseyjoe » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:23 pm

I suppose that there are endless perspectives on wrist and arm position, and I know that’s not your question. I’ll share one word of advice that I received from someone I really respect. You should not be “holding” your wrist in any position. There should be no tension at all. I was never told to bend my wrist, just not resist its naturally relaxed position. I studied with a teacher who had peers that had to quit guitar due to muscle tension and tendon damage.

Another thought, I used to suffer from finger numbness, but in other fingers. For me the answer was pretty simple. Numbness usually comes from lack of blood flow. I had to change my arm position slightly so it didn’t cut of circulation at key points in my radial artery. Actually, I’m no doctor but you might want to take a look here to see how blood flows to the fingers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radial_artery

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mverive
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Post by mverive » Sat Jun 09, 2007 3:11 am

Numbness is usually from nerve compression, or blood vessel compression that leads to poor blood supply to nerves.

In either case, numbness that occurs in the right hand after playing, especially if it's on the palmar side of the hand, likely comes from resting the forearm on the edge of the guitar, or excessive angle in the wrist.

I'd get a professional teacher to take a look at your position, and correct any problems NOW, before you do irreversible damage to your wrist/hand.

phantomlimb

Post by phantomlimb » Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:08 pm

it may also help to stretch first - hands, arms, shoulders, neck - and to make sure you are completely warmed up before playing. though this should probably be done even when there aren't any problems.

Nick Cutroneo
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Post by Nick Cutroneo » Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:32 pm

Try playing with the hand OFF of the guitar completely. Let the arm just hover while you play. If that gets rid of the numbness that means you're putting WAY too much pressure on the guitar and its causing you to cut off circulation to the arm/hand.

Either way, its not a good thing...

cn90

Few thoughts

Post by cn90 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 6:30 pm

I am a physician and have seen too many Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in musicians.

CTS happens in the non-musicians anyway but there are certain positions that put you at risk.

The Median Nerve runs through the wrist, under the Flexor Retinaculum. Normally it is fine, but over time, the tunnel gets tighter for a variety of reasons (low thyroid condition, rheumatoid arthristis, pregnancy etc and etc.), thus the name "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome".
The Median Nerve supplies the Flexor Muscles in the forearm and the Thenar muscles, and Sensory for 3.5 digits, counting from the thumb side.

The Ulnar Nerve runs in a "Guyon" Canal...(btw you can Google all these medical terms; too much for me to repeat them here).....Ulnar Nerve entrapment is uncommon.

Yet Median Nerve problem is common even among non-musicians. The problem is that if you have a borderline case of CTS, all you need is playing in an "unnatural" position and the CTS symptoms appear.

Two easy tests for you to do at home are called Tinel's and Phalen's Tests. Google them to find out how you can diagnose the problem yourself.

But seriously get professional physician assessment, don't guess. Also mention to the physician that you play CG.

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