Tension in left hand

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

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by Michele » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:04 pm

This is a real problem for me, since I have to stretch my left hand fingers so much to span the first four frets. My left hand is so tense when I try to apply the correct pressure to avoid a buzz. As I move up the neck of the guitar, the fret spacing is more manageable, even at the level of the second fret. I will try to lighten my pressure to see if my hand feels any better. The palm of my hand is small in width, although my fingers are not necessarily too short. I have read about small hands, short fingers, etc., in other Internet discussions.

fishdavis

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by fishdavis » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:48 am

Michele wrote:This is a real problem for me, since I have to stretch my left hand fingers so much to span the first four frets. My left hand is so tense when I try to apply the correct pressure to avoid a buzz. As I move up the neck of the guitar, the fret spacing is more manageable, even at the level of the second fret. I will try to lighten my pressure to see if my hand feels any better. The palm of my hand is small in width, although my fingers are not necessarily too short. I have read about small hands, short fingers, etc., in other Internet discussions.
Michele, I too have small hands and fingers, and I've found that adjusting the position of my wrist can really make a difference when I need to do a hard stretch. Over the years I seem to have built up much more flexibility and strength, as most things no longer tax my hands.

jasonCHT

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by jasonCHT » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:51 am

lazy_s wrote:Barre chords are difficult in the beginning, even if you do them properly, the key is just to practice them regularly (It's very unnatural position for a LH and it needs time to get used to it) and, heh... properly from the very beginning - then you'll nail them in about a month or two :)
Excuse me for the intrusion, but i find barring exceedingly tiring and difficult :cry: ) at the 1st fret, especially if i also need to place fingers 2,3,4 on the 2dn and 3rd frets at the same time. Part of problem IMHO is the difficulty of pressing down the strings near the nut (strng tension being the highest there) and the more widely spaced frets towards the nut/top of fretboard. I could manage barring quite comfortably from the 5th fret down (i mean with much less LH fatigue- the strings are much easir to depress), but above that i can hardly hold the chord for more than 2-3 measures. Is this a common difficulty or is there anything i can do? Thanks for reading - jasonCHT

Michele

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by Michele » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:50 pm

fishdavis wrote:Michele, I too have small hands and fingers, and I've found that adjusting the position of my wrist can really make a difference when I need to do a hard stretch. Over the years I seem to have built up much more flexibility and strength, as most things no longer tax my hands.
Thanks, Fishdavis - In adjusting the position of my left wrist, it seems I am creating more tension. It is like twisting my wrist around from front towards the left. I have to rest periodically so I don't injure my wrist while practicing. Did this happen to you before you developed the flexibility that you describe?

Michele

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by Michele » Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:55 pm

In my previous message below I made a mistake when I quoted fishdavis. Please see my comment and question in this message.

Thanks, Fishdavis - In adjusting the position of my left wrist, it seems I am creating more tension. It is like twisting my wrist around from front towards the left. I have to rest periodically so I don't injure my wrist while practicing. Did this happen to you before you developed the flexibility that you describe?

I am trying to play an etude by Dionisio Aguado where in one measure I have to place LH finger 3 on low F ((D string), 4 on high D (B string), and 1 on high F (E string) (arpeggio). This is only one example of the excessive stretching and twisting in order to play. Another measure has low D, B, and high F in an arpeggio. It seems like I should be able to release the first string in order to play the other two if the sequence of notes is not repeated until a later measure.

I have only had two lessons, so I know it will take a lot more time and practice for my hands and fingers to become accustomed to playing such configurations.

orchman

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by orchman » Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:31 am

One thing that seems to work for me and for some of my students is let your left hand "hang" from the shoulder more, rather than try to squeeze the thumb-1st finger to stop the strings. Let the fingers use gravity to fret the guitar rather than squeezing with your opposable thumb.

This only works if you are fretting in the "green" area right behind the fret and following all the other pieces of advice already covered. It's just a way of using even less force to fret with...

fishdavis

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by fishdavis » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:04 am

Michele wrote:In my previous message below I made a mistake when I quoted fishdavis. Please see my comment and question in this message.

Thanks, Fishdavis - In adjusting the position of my left wrist, it seems I am creating more tension. It is like twisting my wrist around from front towards the left. I have to rest periodically so I don't injure my wrist while practicing. Did this happen to you before you developed the flexibility that you describe?

I am trying to play an etude by Dionisio Aguado where in one measure I have to place LH finger 3 on low F ((D string), 4 on high D (B string), and 1 on high F (E string) (arpeggio). This is only one example of the excessive stretching and twisting in order to play. Another measure has low D, B, and high F in an arpeggio. It seems like I should be able to release the first string in order to play the other two if the sequence of notes is not repeated until a later measure.

I have only had two lessons, so I know it will take a lot more time and practice for my hands and fingers to become accustomed to playing such configurations.
Michele, sorry for the late reply, I've been away - I'm not sure about twisting your wrist from front towards the left, that sounds like it would cause problems. I don't twist my wrist so much as I bend it, so the wrist goes further away from the fingerboard and rises up to give the fingers more access over the board. My wrist is never bent under the fingerboard and usually falls straight in a relaxed manner. I've never put my wrist in a position where it causes more tension, it always eases it. For the stretch you describe I would just let it seems like you probably need to let your fingers gain the flexibility and strength to hold the strings down in that position --- but you might have even smaller hands than me. How long are your fingers, if you don't mind me asking?

I've worked a lot on my finger flexibility and strength over the years, and things I once thought utterly impossible to play are now coming easily to me (barre chords on the high frets, wide stretches, etc). Results will come over time, but don't injure yourself. I can usually tell the difference between stretching discomfort and problem-causing pain. Of course, you may have to find workarounds for some things if your fingers are really small, but you might be surprised at how much more you can do in a year's time.

I sometimes stretch my fingers out by doing the equivalent of splits with my fingers -- does anyone else do this? Slur exercises helped my fingers gain a lot of strength, too.

Michele

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by Michele » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:05 pm

My palm at the base of my fingers is 3" wide.
#1 = 2 5/8 "
#2 = 2 3/4 "
#3 = 2 1/2 "
#4 = 2" and is crooked, so when I curve it to press a string, the outer portion of my finger tip is developing the callus.

During my last lesson, I showed my instructor what I had to do to reach high F and low G and he gave me exercises to do, but, otherwise, he could not see a way around my problem. Certain chords will always be a challenge. Since I really want to learn to play, I will continue with the stretching exercises. I am sure that in time that I will be able to employ workarounds and adapt my hand and finger movements to the music. It may not look as pretty as others.

I did try orchman's recommendation, but I don't think I know exactly what he is saying. I cannot always fret right behind the fret when I am stretching two or more fingers.

I will try "splits" and slur exercises, although I don't know what a slur is, yet. Thanks for all the advice.

Michele

Re: Tension in left hand

Post by Michele » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:34 pm

Although I still feel tension in my left hand, another posting about lightening up on the fretting may help. I also have a work-around for the G chord, which I cannot play with 4 on high G. I just swing LH finger # 1 back to G and it is sure to sound better than trying with 4.

I have learned to stretch between my LH #1 and 4 to be able to play high F and low G in Aguado's Etude. It works pretty well, although I have to be purposeful in my stretch.

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