Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

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

Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:40 pm

I'm noticing a recurring numbness in my left hand (fret hand) after a short period of practice (within 30-40 minutes). I'm not doing anything particularly demanding or rigorous with the L.H. while I'm practicing (in fact, most of the hard work lately has been in my R.H.). My feeling is that this has more to do with the way I'm sitting, or the type of chair I'm sitting on. I'm using a normal, hard wood chair that would be common in a dining room. I'm using a foot stool to prop the guitar up while playing. The first chair I was using was a bit higher off the ground. I got numb a lot more regularly with that chair. I switched to another chair a bit lower to the ground, and the problem has gotten better, but I don't feel like I'm out of the woods yet (have noticed the numbness/sensation a bit). My posture seems okay. I actually got this numbness in the chair in front of my teacher and he didn't notice anything untoward in my posture. I'm new to this technique, so I was wondering if anyone's gone through similar experiences. Are there any recommended chairs? Admittedly I just grabbed what we had on hand. I'm getting serious enough I'd be willing to purchase something "proper" to practice in.

Thanks for any info.

Dave

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muirtan
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Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by muirtan » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:36 pm

Hi Dave you might find this thread of use viewtopic.php?f=71&t=44007

I used to have numbness due to ulnar nerve problems but that has been resolved now. Hope you soon find a solution.

JQ.

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by JQ. » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:35 pm

My first thought would be to ditch the footstool. There are a number of support frames you can attach to your guitar and many people are happy with them. I use a Dynarette cushion.

dkaplowitz

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:27 am

Thanks for the replies. That thread had some good info, muirtan, thanks. And I have been looking into those support frames you mentioned, JQ. It's probably worth giving them a trial run to see if it helps. I appreciate the feedback.

Dave

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alaudacorax
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Location: UK

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by alaudacorax » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:52 am

I've been having the same problem.

I've realised it only occurs when I'm learning something new, but not necessarily anything particularly difficult for the left-hand. Once I get the hang of something, the numbness doesn't occur.

I assume I'm unconsciously tensing the muscles in the hand and forearm. So I think the problem, for me anyway, is purely psychological and I'm trying to be more aware of my left hand and arm and keep them relaxed (but I keep forgetting :? ).

dkaplowitz

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:41 pm

The problem has decreased some in the last week, so I'm grateful for that. Thanks for the feedback.

Psychology, posture, my physical condition, an overly aggressive grip on my fret hand could all be contributing. Switching from my Stagg foot stool to a Dynarette helped some, but I am not in love with the Dynarette...maybe it's an adjustment period. My wife happened to have an old, wooden step stool that's the perfect size for a foot stool. That's turning out to be one of the better things I've tried using. I do need a better chair, though. I keep looking for ones at stores I go to. Hopefully one will jump out at me.

Best,

Dave

bcuralli24

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by bcuralli24 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:58 am

Check the position of your neck when your hand goes numb...I have found that good posture has helped with general comfort, but if I start leaning my head forward-either to see the music or to look at either hand, or the fretboard, etc, I start having problems with numbness. If I keep my head "over my shoulders" the problems subside.
Don't know if this is your issue, hope it helps!

sandy

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by sandy » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:36 am

I've had the same problem where I can wake up at night with my left hand entirely numb. Actually, it comes and goes with intensity. I've noticed the problem lessening somewhat when I adjust the position of the neck of the guitar, usually with the upper neck so close to my face that I can feel my breath on my fingers. It seems that I then don't have to apply as much pressure as when I hold it in typical classical position as outlined in manuals. In a sense, I'm holding the body of the guitar closer to me. Being perfectly honest, I'm a 62 year old woman where our anatomy can get in the way, so women have to take things into consideration. This position seems to work better for me, but everyone is different.

dogonjon

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dogonjon » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:26 am

I find I like to squirm about a bit while playing. At times I lean way forward starring at the neck or my right hand or lean back closing closing my eyes like John Mc Loughlin. I rarely support my left foot and when I do it's usually with my guitar case or set it on the side of my right foot. I prefer a very low chair or an ottoman or play standing with a strap. I know it must sound strange and it surly must look strange as I go through my posture changes during a piece but standard CG posture looks uncomfortable to many observers and many are used to guitarists striking strange poses from time to time. While efficiency and discipline are the hallmark of excellent playing, creativity and playfullness makes playing fun and performances fun to watch. It also relieves the tension that can lead to repetative stress injuries.

sandy

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by sandy » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:01 am

At work, I talked with a pianist today who has the same problem of numbness in one of his hands. He wakes up in the morning with the same symptoms that we have. He basically plays rock music where he pounds the keys in rhythmic fashion, and has been doing so for 30 years. Sometimes it's just aging and the "wear and tear" of using our hands in unnatural ways.

dkaplowitz

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:26 pm

As an update, within the last few months, with a combination of changing the chair I sat on and using a wooden foot stool my wife happened to have lying around, I'm happy to report this issue with numbness is no longer happening. I tried the Dynarette cushion, but I just wasn't crazy about it, and didn't seem to help at the time. (I should revisit it using the new chair). I could still stand to do some nice stretching before playing, but I think for the most part, I think it was just a matter of learning to get comfortable with the new playing position that cg has shown me.

Thanks again for the replies/ideas.

Dave

scotthtaylor

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by scotthtaylor » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:25 pm

Dave -

So glad to hear that you've solved your problem. Gives me hope.

My story - I've been a computer jockey for over 25 years now. Pounding the keyboard has caused some problems. First it was with my right (mouse) hand and I was finally able to overcome that with some better ergonomics. Now both hands (but mostly my left) are experiencing tingling most of the time, and downright numbness when I wake at night.

I went to see a hand surgeon a couple weeks ago and he tells me I have Carpal Tunnel. He said he's seeing a little bit of muscle atrophy in my left hand. He says if it gets any worse, I'm looking at permanent nerve damage and more loss of muscle. That's pretty scary!

I'm going in for some tests in a few weeks to see how bad it is, and if I'm going to need surgery. I've done a bit of research, and the reviews for surgery from musicians is overall more positive than I thought they'd be. Quite a few say that they wished they'd had it done sooner. So while I certainly don't want to be down and out for a few weeks because of surgery, I'm getting pretty sick of my hand going numb during practice, and while I work.

I've done a few searches on this forum, and haven't really seen many stories from people who've had surgery. I'd be very interested in hearing how it went, and how long it took to recover from it.

Thanks for listening to me whine a little bit. I may start a new topic and keep folks updated on progress, and any advice.

Scott

dkaplowitz

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:55 pm

Scott,

I wish you all the best of luck with your method of treatment. I'm an IT guy too -- Unix/Linux admin, so typing is a large part of my day both at work, and while surfing the web at home. I understand how taxing it can get on your hands. I hope whatever you choose to do works out well for you.

Dave

scotthtaylor

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by scotthtaylor » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:07 pm

I probably should have updated this quite awhile ago.

I had the Carpal Tunnel Release surgery in late January. I was playing simple pieces less than a week later. Didn't have a lot of hand strength and couldn't do even a small stretch.

Now, less than 3 months later, it feels like I have a new hand. No numbness, no tingling, very rarely any pain. My dexterity is back and my hand is continually getting stronger. I'm starting to play like I'd hoped.

I only have one regret - I wish I'd gotten it done sooner. I wasted tons of money and time trying exercises, stretching, massage, and it only made it worse. The surgery and recovery were cake.

I know everyone is different and it seems scary. However, if you have any issues, find a good hand doctor (good being the key word here), and don't worry about it.

Scott

dkaplowitz

Re: Numbness in fret hand, posture/seating?

Post by dkaplowitz » Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:00 am

Great news, Scott! Glad to hear of your success with the procedure. All the best!

Dave

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