Probably a dumb ? regarding RH wrist arch

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

Probably a dumb ? regarding RH wrist arch

Post by Rick714 » Thu May 17, 2007 3:09 am

How much is too much? I think I have too much but can't seem to flatten it out. If I let my right arm hang down by my side and then bring the hand around to the strings without yet resting the forearm on the guitar, my wrist is very flat. When I bring the forearm down, the wrist arch increases some. As I play, the arch increases more. I don't know that this is slowing my fingers down but I do get better tone with the flatter wrist. Just can't seem to keep it flat. Also, with a flatter wrist, the finger stroke seems to come more from the big knuckles of the fingers, which might also account for the better tone. Hard to break old habits, although I'm not sure I have all that bad a habit to break. Unfortunately, no teacher to run it by. Any thoughts? Thanks all.


Post by tritone » Thu May 17, 2007 5:22 am

Hello Rick714,

Probably too much when the arch makes the tendons work awkwardly putting unwanted friction, tension, pressure, one of those on the tendons.

Not that you are doing this just answering your first thought.

The method of the " push stroke" is interesting where you use some of your finger weight against the string and let it pop out to create the tone without the finger coming to rest on the next string.

Economic and strong like a rest stroke but easy on your tendons the weight doing the work not so much the action of the finger pulling the string.

I believe this is what Owl uses but I could be wrong on the concept and what owl ( i have read threads) uses and sorry if I am.

I'm familiar and are able to apply this method on the keyboard but with the guitar I found it to be very subtle, sensitive, I could not incorporate it in my playing at this time. I'm not sure if I'm able at all.

out... JR


Post by theredbalalaika » Thu May 17, 2007 4:44 pm

You will get the best tone when your fingers are at an angle to the strings-not perpendicular, and your finger strokes should come from the knuckles to get the loudest effect. Just work on consistency.


Get the John Williams and Pepe Romero dvd

Post by cn90 » Thu May 17, 2007 7:49 pm

1. JW DVD Seville concert shows beautiful hand position of JW

2. The Pepe Romero documentary DVD playing Concierto Anranjuez is worth every penny: ... 451&itm=14

Although this is listed under CD section, the DVD is the bonus. it shows Pepe Romero playing and even closeup.

I am speaking from a physician perspective, the hand positions of JW and PR is simply beautiful, and in doing so they avoid muscle injury and things like carpal tunnel syndrome.


Post by LFP » Thu May 17, 2007 9:26 pm

Rick714 I want to back up what cn90 says.

From your description I suspect that you have it pretty well right. The fact that your wrist is going back to a slightly arched position after a time to me sounds as if you may be relaxing into that position which is a good sign. Certainly your description gives me that impression.

As cn90 alludes to in cn90's post hyper-extension of the wrist in either direction leads to all sorts of related problems eg carpul tunnel syndrone. Putting your hands out in front of your with your palm downwards and then letting your fingers fall towards the ground drop is the hand movement direction that I call "positive". Some positive movement in your right wrist is desirable. Neutral or negative movement has more potential for damage than positive within the normal movement range. I am a little vary of the push stroke as described because it does rely on the use of a (admittedly small) negative extension of the wrist. Over time pianists can get into serious hand/wrist problems with this technique, admittedly (again) often using far more strength/pressure than guitarists will probably ever use with their push stroke wrist extensions.

On the issue of tone and full finger (knuckle movement), I would be a little patient with that issue. Over time tone management does come down to having maximum flexibility to change/adjust your RH finger actions. That freedom is only enhanced by having as relaxed as possible support for your right hand by your arm. You will find the most flexible and best tone production from the most relaxed Right hand position, but it does take time.


Post by Rick714 » Thu May 17, 2007 11:54 pm

Sincere thanks to all for their feedback - very helpful.


Post by hello_me » Tue May 22, 2007 9:04 pm

I recommend you get a wrist brace. It will help keep you wrist straight and your fingers tall. It will also help with the RH placement which will provide a better tone.

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Post by Vesuvio » Tue May 22, 2007 9:24 pm

hello_me wrote:I recommend you get a wrist brace. It will help keep you wrist straight and your fingers tall. It will also help with the RH placement which will provide a better tone.
I'm puzzled that you would recommend this. I remember reading some advice from you in viewtopic.php?p=165940&highlight=#165940 :
hello_me wrote: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.
I don't think there is much risk of carpal tunnel syndrome from slight flexion at the wrist. My instinct would be that problems might well come from rigidly maintaining a straight wrist.

If I have misunderstood the point you were making, I do apologise.

Best wishes, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith


Post by hello_me » Tue May 22, 2007 9:36 pm

I am going off what my instructors told me. It is entirlely possible that I misunderstood what they said. I do know that my instuctor wants me to have a straight wrist. I do what I am told.


Post by LFP » Tue May 22, 2007 10:56 pm

I want back up both Vesuvio's comments and implicit attitude.
IMHO what Vesuvio has said is correct.


Post by mrcold » Wed May 23, 2007 12:34 am

Try this.. get out your guitar and put your hand in your normal position(with too much arch, as you put it) now move your hand away from the strings, trying not to change your wrist position at all(but don't tense up!) Now wiggle your fingers "tremolo-style" :) as you do this, very slowly unbend your wrist.
Do you feel the movement of your fingers getting any smoother or easier? less tense? You should ideally find the place where your fingers are moving as unrestrictedly as possible. For me, it is when my wrist is just slightly bent, not when it is perfectly straight, but i imagine that this is not the same for everybody. Be sure to pay close attention to all the muscles that are moving when you are wiggling your fingers. Can you feel the muscles in your arm? You should. If you can't, try really hard to concentrate on what muscles are making your fingers move.(they are in your arm.. not your hand.

The fact that these muscles are in your arm is the reason you need to have a straight wrist. The muscles there act like a rubber band that pulls to move your fingers. When you bend your wrist, it restricts the movement, its like stretching a rubber band around a corner, the tighter you pull it around a corner, the harder you have to pull to affect either side.

SO.. in conclusion ;).. its not about how straight your wrist is, its about finding for yourself the most relaxed position that allows your muscles to move freely.
If you have given yourself the bad habit of playing with too much arch, then it can be hard to stop it. The best way i can think of fixing it is to just stay as relaxed as possible, find your ideal wrist position and practice some arpeggios VERY SLOWLY. Try the whole time to be very aware of all of your muscles, and stop to readjust if you feel any tension creep into your wrist.



Post by Rick714 » Wed May 23, 2007 12:50 am

I really appreciate everyone's comments. Cody, I think you hit the nail on the head for me, though, in terms of finding the most relaxed position that allows the fingers to move freely. I think I have, recognizing that a bad habit can feel good - but I think I'm ok. Interesting how when you look at someone playing straight on the wrist seems to look much less arched then when you look down or from the side, and I think my straight on observations lead me to think that I may have been arching too much.

Well, one day, my kids will grow up, I'll retire, and if I'm not back in diapers by then, I'll get a teacher again for some one-on-one observation.

Best to all.


Post by mrcold » Wed May 23, 2007 1:04 am

Rick714 wrote: Well, one day, my kids will grow up, I'll retire, and if I'm not back in diapers by then, I'll get a teacher again for some one-on-one observation.

Best to all.
haha.. Thats good. Just be careful that you don't create bad habits!!!
The thing about teaching yourself is that you have to be sooooo careful, analyzing almost every thing you do, to make sure that it isn't creating undue tension, or hindering you in some way.

Good Luck!!



Post by LFP » Wed May 23, 2007 8:18 am

mr cold your post @ 12:34 is wonderful. I'll retire.

Rick714 your comments about viewing angle are spot on.


Post by eales » Wed May 23, 2007 2:09 pm

I do take my hat off to Mr Cold - that was a great piece of writing. I find it really hard to find the right words when trying to give useful advice online - and usually use 20 words where 10 would be enough. It's a humbling experience for an experienced teacher and I reckon it's really good training for me!
I'm reminded of writing exercises where you have to describe something like how to put up a tent etc - and this is more serious cos if you get it wrong someone could get themselves hospitalised!

(Sorry I know this is a bit off topic - move it by all means Vesuvio)

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