Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
sphinx
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by sphinx » Fri May 02, 2014 6:06 pm

dory wrote:She also says that anyone whose hands aren't big enough for a 660 mm fingerboard won't get the fulll sound from the guitar

I hate to disagree with Ms. Isbin but I have to. A 640 mm scale guitar, if built right, can sound every bit as full as a 660 mm scale guitar. I suppose she just didn't yet have the pleasure to play one of those.

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Lawler
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by Lawler » Fri May 02, 2014 6:41 pm

sphinx wrote:...A 640 mm scale guitar, if built right, can sound every bit as full as a 660 mm scale guitar.
That's been my experience as well.

Thinking of the musical end result, IMO technical/construction/scale length aspects don't matter as much as the player's physical connection with the instrument and the artistic result that connection affects. The guitar, as well as being a beautiful work of art, is a musical performance tool. Luckily we guitarists have a wide range of tools to select from. Everyone: use the tool that works for you.

LFP

Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by LFP » Fri May 02, 2014 9:42 pm

Lawler wrote: IMO technical/construction/scale length aspects don't matter as much as the player's physical connection with the instrument and the artistic result that connection affects.
Thanks for this Lawler - excellent. LFP

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Michael.N.
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by Michael.N. » Tue May 06, 2014 10:39 pm

Apart from all the previous advice maybe you should get another musician/Guitarist to look at exactly what is happening to your shoulder whilst playing. It's not uncommon for Guitarists to hunch the shoulder, up or forward without even realising it. It's common in both shoulders. Stay with the shoulder hunched for any length of time and it will cause pain. Some people seem to be able to do it and somehow it has very little effect on their playing. For others it can completely destroy their facility on the instrument, probably because the tension spreads and affects the function of the muscles. I once had it so bad that it impinged on a nerve and was sending mini electric type shocks down my back. Wonderful. :shock:
Historicalguitars.

a human
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by a human » Wed May 07, 2014 2:00 pm

I would suggest checking in with an Orthopedist - it is possible there is something medically specific there and an injection would be of help. Or a series of gentle PT movements to strengthen the shoulder area.

I would also suggest treating your playing as an athletic venture - don't play until you hurt, but play until just before that and stop. You might be able to build lengths of playing over time. Do lots of standing up, stretching and moving around between short bursts of playing. We are designed to be creatures of movement. Vary your playing positions - even consider standing at times to play. Two short comfortable sessions are better than one long session that creates pain. Consider alternating what you do by days - stand one day, sit another, have several different methods of raising the guitar, raise/lower chair height, etc. Breaking your playing up in short bursts may also let your brain process the new bits in between playing sessions - latent learning.

I would also suggest a book, Pain Free by Peter Egoscue. A lot of equestrian types (we've been dumped over the years) like his methods for reducing chronic pain - very gentle series of positions you use to align spine depending on where it hurts. I worked in the IT industry for many years and also used his techniques to overcome shoulder pain due to a combination of too much mousing and a horse injury.

Playing is so enjoyable, I hope you can find a way to continue comfortably. I can certainly empathize as I was hit by a truck while crossing a street a few months ago and have been frustrated by my inability to play, but am doing what my Ortho suggests and hope to return soon. (I keep reminding myself I am glad to be walking, talking and making sense.)

Good luck. Let us know what works/helps.
Last edited by a human on Thu May 08, 2014 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1965 Krempel Classical (660ish mm)
The rest come and go.

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Lawler
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by Lawler » Thu May 08, 2014 7:02 pm

a human wrote:...don't play until you hurt, but play until just before that and stop...
I believe this is a critical issue in dealing with any injury related to playing an instrument. It takes sensitivity and is made all the more complicated because one's perception of pain is masked by the pleasure of playing music.

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LVR
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by LVR » Fri May 09, 2014 4:27 am

Hi R Pegio
"Shoulder" pain that gets worse when you strain, as when you go to the bathroom, is probably referred pain, most likely from nerves in your neck (cervical spine) so I'm glad you are seeing a doctor. Physical therapy, once you find out the cause of the pain, is probably a great idea. Good luck.
The basic thing about playing the guitar is the pleasure you get from it. There's nothing wrong with pleasure is there?
Julian Bream

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R_Pegio
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by R_Pegio » Fri May 09, 2014 10:45 am

I am deeply grateful (and humbled) by the quality and quantity of advice offered, many thanks to all concerned.

I shall report back on the outcome of the doctor's diagnosis on Tuesday.
It doesn't take any brains to listen to music.

Luciano Pavarotti

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R_Pegio
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by R_Pegio » Wed May 14, 2014 2:53 pm

The Doc prescribed anti-inflammatory ointment and is arranging a consultation with a physiotherapist. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms from not playing...!
It doesn't take any brains to listen to music.

Luciano Pavarotti

Nate Miller

Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by Nate Miller » Wed May 14, 2014 3:13 pm

anti-inflamatories and physio therapy sounds like you are going to be playing again, though

If the doc gave you the long face and talked operations that would be bad news, but this sounds like you have a real chance to get back to playing, probably sooner than later.

warm weather is coming and that always helps these sorts of things, too

best of luck

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Lawler
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Re: Shoulder Pain Induced by Guitar Playing

Post by Lawler » Wed May 14, 2014 5:26 pm

R_Pegio wrote:The Doc prescribed anti-inflammatory ointment and is arranging a consultation with a physiotherapist. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms from not playing...!
Best wishes for a full recovery.

While you're waiting, consider practicing without the guitar... reading the print music while hearing it in your mind's ear and visualizing the related finger movements. I do this as a standard part of my practice and find it to be productive and enjoyable.

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