Minor wrist issue

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

Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:07 pm

Hello,

Í've had some minor wrist and elbow pains for about 2 years on and off. It's better now but some days I get some small aches, nothing serious and it always seems to shift sides, sometimes at the base of the thumb and sometimes on the outside of the wrist. I don't think going to a physiotherapist would help because as I said earlier the pains are so small and I don't really react to any test. Do you have any recommendations on what to do? Stretches? NSAIDs? Tests to see if I'm stiff in any muscle?

I've used NSAIDs in periods but never for any prolonged period of time. I've stretched but same here, never seriously or following any schedule.

Do you think I've damaged my tendons or anything even if the pain is really minor?

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dng
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by dng » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:33 pm

search the WEB for Finger Exercises...

specially Finger Strength Exercises For Guitar and Finger Fitness

good luck
"Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.”
-Frederic Chopin

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robin loops
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by robin loops » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 pm

I don't think you necessarily have already damaged the tendons but you need to address the issue and correct what could be causing it or in time it can easily get worse. I had similar problems in the past and even chronically so. But the following steps all helped get it under control and don't have wrist and thumb pain anymore.

The pain at the base of the thumb could be due to poor barre technique. A poorly placed barre can cause you to use a lot more strength which can lead to pain in the base of the thumb (where it leaves the hand toward the palm side). Try playing only songs that don't have many barres in them for a full day's practice. If your barre is a problem you shouldn't have the same thumb pain (since you didn't use barres that day).

The wrist pain can be due to having to sharp an angle in the wrist. Posture and how you hold the guitar, etc. can fix that if it is the case. As a general rule you don't want the wrist bent more than it is when you hold an imaginary (or real) tennis ball out in front of you at waists height (down low not up and in front of you. When doing this (holding tennis ball) you should have a nice even curvature from arm to fingertips. Forming a big J (without a big tail) or soup ladle. Another good test to check if wrist angle is causing the issue is to clench your fist and then bend your wrist. You'll soon see how far you can bend the wrist before loosing strength in the clenched fingers and at what point it becomes uncomfortable. Get familiar with the range of motion (how much you can bend the wrist) that is efficient and comfortable and adjust your posture/holding the guitar to be able to stay within these ranges. Chair and footstool height can cause the wrist thing too.

Stretch before practicing. They say the demands of the muscles of the hands (arms) when playing the guitar is comparable to playing football (Am. soccer) and we certainly wouldn't jump into a football match without stretching and warming up first. Another little trick is to run the hands under warm water before playing to make sure they aren't cold (temperature). Start practice sessions off with scales for a bit and then move on to some of the more basic pieces or studies. Never jump right in without warming up and start practicing pieces that are demanding of the left arm ( Asturias for example). Also take frequent breaks never play more than 50 minutes without a short break. A ten minute break each hour is even a fairly rigorous schedule so even more frequent breaks can be a good idea. Always take one at any signs of pain starting to creep in (slight discomfort and/or fatigue is okay until it starts to hurt even just a little).

Make sure your guitar's action isn't too high and use the lightest tension strings you can and still be happy with the tone and feel. It's even a good idea to go all the way to low tension during times when you are dealing with injuries or pain issues. While low may not sound as good on a particular guitar, they are great for giving the hands a bit of a rest (especially while working out issues).
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-James-

Chrisss

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:11 pm

robin loops wrote:Text
Thank you for you in depth answer. I guess I have to warm up more and stretch gently for a few minutes everyday. :merci:

Chrisss

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:05 pm

I've been trying to stay away from the computer the past week and I haven't beeng playing the guitar at all. I've still been using the computer but at least trying minimize usage. I now thought I would begin to stretch the fingers and forearms carefully and also do some warm-ups everyday. We'll see how it goes.

I've never stretched/warmed up before as I've never played seriously but I have to try something as I don't want any permanent damage.

Edit: Do anyone know any good warm up excercises? I clench my fist together for bloodflow and stretch gently, I've also tried the warm water but I only use it for 5 minutes or so. I would really appreciate some more exercises as I don't think I feel warm enough.

Thank you.

Chrisss

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:25 pm

I hope it's OK to bump threads on this forum. :merci:

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Michael.N.
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:15 am

Your warm up should be gentle, slow movements. That's the whole point of a warm up, nothing too jerky or vigorous too soon. Just gently and slowly move/flex the fingers, wrist, forearm. Then include things like shoulder, Neck and perhaps Back exercises.
I also think you should look at your technique and how you are presenting your wrist to the Neck of the Guitar.
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Chrisss

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:22 am

Michael.N. wrote:Your warm up should be gentle, slow movements. That's the whole point of a warm up, nothing too jerky or vigorous too soon. Just gently and slowly move/flex the fingers, wrist, forearm. Then include things like shoulder, Neck and perhaps Back exercises.
I also think you should look at your technique and how you are presenting your wrist to the Neck of the Guitar.
I don't know much about ergonomics when dealing with the guitar except for these things I've read:

- Use the least amount of force possible
- Be relaxed
- Try not to flex the hands too much
- Don't rest the right hand too hard on the body of the guitar (?)
- Never play a demanding piece right away, always start with something easier and slower

Thank you.

Mikkel
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Mikkel » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:12 am

I've recently had great succes with acupuncture as an active treatment for problems with pains in the arms. If it worsens for you I'd definetly recommend it. I tried all sorts of physical therapy but the only thing that really worked was acupuncture.

Also streaching before and after practice is definetly recommended ;)

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Michael.N.
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:10 pm

Chrisss wrote:
Michael.N. wrote:Your warm up should be gentle, slow movements. That's the whole point of a warm up, nothing too jerky or vigorous too soon. Just gently and slowly move/flex the fingers, wrist, forearm. Then include things like shoulder, Neck and perhaps Back exercises.
I also think you should look at your technique and how you are presenting your wrist to the Neck of the Guitar.
I don't know much about ergonomics when dealing with the guitar except for these things I've read:

- Use the least amount of force possible
- Be relaxed
- Try not to flex the hands too much
- Don't rest the right hand too hard on the body of the guitar (?)
- Never play a demanding piece right away, always start with something easier and slower

Thank you.
Yes. The only trouble is that knowing about such things is only half the battle. You have to put those things into your actual playing. That sometimes isn't as easy as it seems. Playing a musical instrument is in many ways a complex activity. Quite often we are trying to do many things at the same time - read the music, concentrate on our left hand, concentrate on our right hand, listen to the tone/sound, be aware of our posture and tension issues. It's not that surprising that things go wrong!
Pain is never a good sign. If you have been experiencing such pain for 2 years then there is clearly something not right, even though it is 'minor pain' as you call it. It also begs the question as to why you are taking NSAIDs if the pain is so minor?
You don't say if you have a Classical Guitar teacher. If you don't have one I suggest you find a specialist Classical Guitar teacher. Preferably one who is well versed in posture and tension issues. It may be that you simply need a minor correction of your technique. It may be other issues. Impossible to say from the other end of a computer. I know that the cost of a teacher puts a lot of people off. I'm also aware that some people are adamant that they can teach themselves. Even just 1 or 2 lessons, focusing on your basic technique might be enough to solve your problem. Sometimes it really is better to put yourself in the hands of a professional. The vast majority of the time it means that you will make much quicker progress. Teaching yourself is the hard and the long route.
Historicalguitars.

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Tomzooki
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Tomzooki » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:11 pm

Work to get rid of any tension in your playing, do stretching AFTER playing, before playing simply begin easy, then increase the work/stretches/speed. Don't use NSAID for a long period, you will kill your stomach. But here in Quebec we have over the counter Voltaren Emulgel, which is a NSAID, but in gel, topical, which you can use long-term without problem and which is very effective. A little marvel! If ever you have something equivalent where you live go for it, though it may need a prescription by a physician.
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jhapgood
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by jhapgood » Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:46 pm

By supporting and stabilizing the wrist a little bit during my playing sessions, I have found that the Futuro energizing support glove has been helpful in providing a little bit of additional wrist stability without restricting my movement when playing. I have primarily used it for right hand issues, but believe it would not restrict the left hand much either. It seems to eliminate a little bit of that soreness that I get when not using it. The Futuro energizing support glove is a mild support that is inexpensive and reversible for use on either hand. It has worked well for me, so I thought I would share this for anyone who might want to try it.
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Rincewind

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Rincewind » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:37 pm

The base of the thumb is possibly De Quervain syndrome which can occur if there isn't enough space for the thumb tendon to glide. It is worth researching on the web, I had it bad and ended up needing a minor operation, happily successful.

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mverive
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Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by mverive » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:02 pm

I would *not* seek medical advice from anyone other than a medical professional. While there are many well-meaning members on this board, many of whom may have had the same (or similar) issues you describe, you cannot expect anyone to make a diagnosis - or recommend any specific therapy - without obtaining a thorough history and physical exam.

You should not be experiencing pain while playing - with or without stretching (which has never bene proven to prevent injury, whether performed before *or* after an activity). If you have pain, you are causing injury. A knowledgable instructor can evaluate your posture and make suggested changes, but if your pain continues, seek qualified medical advice. You do not want to risk permanent injury.

Michael Verive, MD
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Chrisss

Re: Minor wrist issue

Post by Chrisss » Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:19 pm

mverive wrote:I would *not* seek medical advice from anyone other than a medical professional. While there are many well-meaning members on this board, many of whom may have had the same (or similar) issues you describe, you cannot expect anyone to make a diagnosis - or recommend any specific therapy - without obtaining a thorough history and physical exam.

You should not be experiencing pain while playing - with or without stretching (which has never bene proven to prevent injury, whether performed before *or* after an activity). If you have pain, you are causing injury. A knowledgable instructor can ev't

Michael Verive, MD
I know that this would be the ideal thing to do but I don't think a therapist would be able to solve it because the symptoms are so vague (for better or for worse). It shifts several times a day and I wouldn't be able to describe it. I'm wondering if it's just mental, that's how vague it is.

I do know one thing and that's that normal push ups can hurt a little bit on the backside of the hand. I think that stretching with the palmside of the hand on the ground with the fingers pointing to my body can also hurt at the same spot. Hurt/pain is not the right word to describe it but it doesn't really feel right.

Off topic:
Is it OK to stretch the base of the thumb or is that something one should avoid? Both the inner/outer side of the base that is.

Thank you.

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