Hand Injury

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

Hand Injury

Post by GuitarChris » Sat Jul 29, 2006 4:46 pm

I posted earlier that i was just coming back from a hand injury. The doctor diagnosed as tendonitis with some milod carpalo tunnel symptoms... Since the injury i read two GREAT books that i would reccommend to any string players: "Playing Less Hurt"- Janet Horvath, and "The Athletic Musician"- Paul and Harrison. In these books i read a lot about the importance of stretching and taking breaks- neither of which i had done previously. Also i learned not to try and play through pain. I am still trying to figure out why the injury happened...I dont believe it to be poor technique because i am studying guitar in college.. Perhaps it was simply overuse? At the time of the injury iwas practicing guitar about 3 hours per day and piano 2 hours with no days off... Can anyone shed any light?


Post by Dreadnought » Sat Jul 29, 2006 4:49 pm

That sounds like an overuse injury, which may have resulted from prolong usage with improper technique.

A classical pianist I know has some wrist problems in one of his hands, but he's studying with a professional concert pianist and his technique has greatly improved, and consequently the amount of "injuries" he has recieved has diminished.

I'm not expert though; are you sure you are/were using proper technique, and not overusing improper techniques?

Florentin Tise

Post by Florentin Tise » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:12 pm

Chris, thank you for sharing your experience. I also experienced something similar.

It started when I was a teen, playing steel-string guitar with the youth group at our church. We had to change a lot of keys, so I ended up playing a lot of bar chords. I started having pain in my left hand. I didn't know I should not play through pain, so it got quite bad.

Later, in college, in my second year I think, I was working on Bach 996, and in the Prelude and Presto I had similar problems. I had just gotten a new guitar, and the action was quite high. I didn't care to stop and adjust it - I was just too excited with my new guitar. I experienced some problems then, too.

I thank you for sharing your experience, and also thank you for giving the two book titles. I will try to get them.

I want to encourage you not to give up. I am sure you can work your way through this. I have. With patience and the right type of practicing, it can be done.

Good luck to you.



Post by LFP » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:25 am

GuitarChris, Firstly, you will find your way through this, and be all the better for it.

Another book which you may look up is:
'Mental Practice and Imagery for Musicians." Malva S Freymuth.
She is a violinist who got into serious hand "difficulties", researched the subject and after a series of papers wrote this marvellous book.
Currently out of print it is only available through second hand book dealers at a ridiculous "net searched" price. Find it in a library.

If you were/are playing to exhaustion it will always take 36 hrs or more to recover, in which time only VERY light playing should be done. Me (after exhaustion) - next day 30 mins max, all light duties. Always take one day of each week and enjoy the return, being able to start afresh each week!

In the interests of honesty I should say that any teacher should talk through practice regimes and plan them with you. The first role of a teacher is to teach the student how to practice, and by example.
It is time "well thought" rather than time spent that improves musical skills.


Post by GuitarChris » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:19 pm

I appreciate all the great advice! Glad to hear other people have gone through the same experience. I will get the book on mental practice that is one possibility this injury has really opened up to me... I have spent the past 4 months with a fretboard memory trainer, music theory, and mentally practicing playing through works... I wasnt used to practicing like that but i really feel i have improved. - Even without the instrument.... I really think if you try hard you can do so much without even playing.

Thanks again


Post by LFP » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:14 pm

Please give us a "progress" report. Off-instrument learning is powerful and for me the best learning I do. All the best.


Post by Brock » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:15 pm

LFP wrote:The first role of a teacher is to teach the student how to practice.
To be honest Mark, I think think that's the second role. The first role is what to practice, the second is how to practice, the third is how to listen to yourself.
I quite agree with you about off-instrument practice. As an amateur that's important so I can concentrate on technical aspects when I practice. For the advanced student / (aspiring) professional you can add reduce the risk of RSI to that.


Post by pabloeman » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:15 am

wow thanks for the information it was very helpful


Post by GuitarChris » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:17 pm

Update: I had a nerve conduction study done and it was found i have carpal tunnel... :cry: ....So it looks like more wearing of the brace or maybe a shot of steroids into the tunnel.......Oh well it could have been something more permanent...this has forced me to rethink my playing habits entirely so i guess that could be good.


Post by kfisherx » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:31 pm

Chris... Just because you are studying guitar in college doesn't mean that you are not suffering from playing with poor technique. Many university teachers do not really emphasize the technique in a way that promotes long-term playing health. Some of them are downright awful about technique in fact. I recently saw a Portland State U guitar performance major get broken down to basic strings sweeps in a master class because his techique was so terrible.

The fact that you are suffering from tenden injury in fact suggests very strongly that you have foundation issues with the way you are playing. I ran into this same issue and found a teacher that specializes in injury-free long-term playing. Since starting with him, I not only have relieved myself off all tendon issues (No surgery needed btw) but I am growing at a rate I never thought possible before. His method kicked me out of all the technical walls I had run into when I first started. I was so excited about his mehodology and understanding in this area that I convinced him to go online with this stuff so that anyone anywhere in the world could learn it.

This teacher will talk with you about your issues if you are interested in learning more.... He also does free evaluations for folks which will actually answer your worries about the technique.


Good luck whatever you decide to do. That is a very tough issue to deal with.


Post by GuitarChris » Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:40 am

Thank you Karla...I will check out the site and see what i think..I just cant wait to heal up so i can start again...I dont think the recovery time from a steroid shot is too bad..


Post by kfisherx » Tue Aug 15, 2006 6:00 am

GuitarChris wrote:Thank you Karla...I will check out the site and see what i think..I just cant wait to heal up so i can start again...I dont think the recovery time from a steroid shot is too bad..
I don't think it is either but if you don't fix what caused the problem in the first place you will be back to this place again in very short order. I did that too btw. ;) Those shots just mask the symptom, they do not fix anything. Once you start down the path of Carpal your only real long-term option is to fix whatever it is that started the pain in the first place. In most cases with CG, it is positional things, how you do a stroke, that sort of thing. Sometimes it goes bigger and into how much stress you have in your body and larger body parts. In any case, you need help to figure it out and a pro in that area is your best bet. I used an Alexander Teacher and this guitar teacher to help solve my problem. Looking back I could've done it with just using this teacher's method. At the time I didn't trust the method or him enough. Now I know better.

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