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Thread: Hand injuries from over-playing?

  1. #1
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    Hand injuries from over-playing?

    Hey everyone, I have just begun a pretty intense practice routine which has actually managed to lift me out of my depression caused by not playing or practicing music enough. However, just as I started to become the most dedicated I have ever really been, I started realizing that playing constanly (with a metronome) for periods of 15 to 25 minutes was making my left hand pretty sore. at first it felt like it was just really working my hands, but recently I've actually stared to have sharp pains and tight muscles in my left hand. I have not practiced for than two and a half hours in one sitting, but eventually I hope to work my practice routine up to ten or more hours a day. Is this not possible because of the risk of serious hand injury? or will I eventually be able to work up to this much practice by taking small steps and gradually increasing the amount of practice I put in each day? Any info on how to prevent injuries in general?

    Note: my posture isn't the greatest while I play because I wear a strap while sitting down and it forces me to slouch a little to see what my hands are doing...I can't think of any solutions to this.

    Thanks for any help.
    Last edited by Drone; 01-21-2005 at 11:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Eventually especially after practicing legato stuff I will get not a sharp pain but my hand will just feel worked and then I will stop playing for a few hours or the rest of the day. If I am just picking 3nps stuff then I can go on for hours and hours and not have pain but legato kills my hand off so I always leave this until last.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla
    Eventually especially after practicing legato stuff I will get not a sharp pain but my hand will just feel worked and then I will stop playing for a few hours or the rest of the day. If I am just picking 3nps stuff then I can go on for hours and hours and not have pain but legato kills my hand off so I always leave this until last.
    Interesting. I am playing a lot of 3-note per string scales and melodic patterns and I find that still makes my hand hurt.

    About posture, I've found that I can't win with this. I try to sit up completely straight, but for some reason it feels llike the guitar is way down there. I also find that I generally lose some picking ability if I don't let the guitar rest on my right thigh. I used to practice with the strap raised really high, but that didn't do good things for my playing at all. I wonder if the body of the guitar is too small, because I'm kinda tall. I have an acoustic with a pretty big body but I find the frets really hard to press down,...which could be part of the reason I'm feeling pain...
    Last edited by Drone; 01-22-2005 at 12:40 AM.

  4. #4
    Well I wouldn't want to be picking 3nps stuff for hours on an acoustic guitar. Maybe you are using to much presure and using to many muscles which will wear your hand out a lot quicker perhaps. You only need a light touch, pretend the fingerboard is your girlfriends face, you are not going to dig your fingers in really hard right but be nice and gentle. For posture, sit down, keep your left foot flat on the floor, and get a height of about 6" to rest your right foot on. I use a box to rest my right foot on so my leg is raised a little, I don't wear a strap while sitting and I keep my back strait, it will take time to get out of the habit of the hunchback guitar thing.

  5. #5
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    If your questions haven't already been answered, I've got a couple of suggestions - technique examination has already been suggested, and it can't be understated. A few articles have already been written on the topic, like "Discover Your Discomfort", which helped me out a bit, so if you haven't yet, check it out. Also, you said that legato kills your hand, which is not uncommon, but saving it for last is not what I would recommend. Depending on where your hand hurts after playing, the problem could be in any number of places - if trilling for a minute or two on a regular basis hasn't changed it, either you're doing something wrong or your hands are still cold. I wash my hands in hot water during my breaks, and the heat helps loosen my hands, and lengthens my trilling time by about 30 seconds at a fairly quick pace, and also makes it more effective.

    As for the posture, you mentioned resting it on your right thigh, so my recommendation is to try putting it on your left thigh. This will have both of your arms in a more suitable position for some - left arm is in a neutral position, with a better elbow angle (which also helps stretching ability, as you don't have to tuck your elbow into your ribcage every time you want to do wide-stretch stuff), and the right arm is in a position that reduces unnecessary arm motion and allows a better range of pick angles. The neck is also at a steeper angle, so you can see better without slouching. This is all just from my experience, and if it doesn't work you won't die from not using it, but it helped me out a lot with similar posture problems and kept my right arm more relaxed.

    Hope this helps, and if you need clarification, feel free to PM me.

    Rock On,
    The Jeffinator

  6. #6
    I, Galactus oRg's Avatar
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    I think every guitarist out there knows about soreness. Its one of those things you get early on when starting to play. Tense and tight muscles are normal as well as the occassional twitch and such. I get small pains as well in my lower wrist and left forearm after doing some wild stretches and some very odd hand positions. I have injured myself this way in the past. Now what I do is continue to play guitar but I play it just doing 3-4nps with no crazy streches. Basically just some scalar runs. I also get a pain after playing really fast for too long. If I play at 32nd notes at 130 for like an hour my left hand begins to get sore but that's just cuz it's an intense workout. Tone down on the intensity. More than 10 hours for practicing on a regular schedule is not advised. You can burn yourself out real fast and possibly lose interest in guitar. I've seen it happen a million times.
    v2sw3CUhw6ln3pr6OFck3ma9u6Lw3Xm6l6Ui2Ne5t5TSFDAb8T DOen7g6RZATHCMHPa21s6MSr53Dp3hackerkey

  7. #7
    The Awesome Brigade
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    I've played for about four months I suppose. I play up to 6 or 7 hours a day if I get the chance (I am a very dedicated player, expecially since I am lead in a band). Early on I got alot of cramps, expecially in the muscles on my picking had after doing violining or etc. I eventually started taking breaks for a few days to allow the muscles in my hands to develop, somewhat like a workout. I don't know if it helped but I also ate alot of high protein meals. Going into biology for a second, muscle is expanded when microtears from a workout are filled in with new material. So I think that not only is good posture important but if your going to play alot, your hands muscles are going to be developing and you need to have good eating habits, in my opinion, to keep up with developing hand muscles.

  8. #8
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    I find your posts interesting...10 hours is probably over doing it in the beginning but I eventually hope to work up to that...and that time will include transcribing solos and writing everything out in other keys but most of it will indeed be playing.



    Also, what is violining? I've been wanting to know how to apply violin exercises to the guitar ever since I heard my favorite playeers studied paganini exercises and the like. Could anyone point me into the right direction?

  9. #9
    The Awesome Brigade
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    You need reverb and delay effects to do it properly, but it can be done (albeit less convincingly and cool soundingly). The way Eddie Van Halen does it, he hammers on each note with his fretting hand while simultaneously rolling the volume up with his picking hand (no picking involved). I do it differently, I wrap my pinky around my volume pot and roll it up as well as pick the note when I hammer on. My favorite violining song, Cathedral, goes something like this:

    E|--------------------------------------------------------------|
    B|-------------4-------------------------------------8---------|
    G|---------4------4-----------------------------8-------8-----|
    D|-----4-------------4----------------------8--------------8--|
    A|-2---------------------2------4------6---------------------6-|
    E|--------------------------------------------------------------|

    Its not a very good tab but thats the best example I can make. That pattern continues on, then heads back up the neck I suppose you could say. Its easy to figure out from here.

  10. #10

  11. #11
    Frequent Jammer JailHouseRock's Avatar
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    Post When is pushing the limit OK? When is it not OK?

    I was reading some articles deals with tendons/muscles injuries and thought I'd like to copy and paste it here :---- >
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    You need to keep your muscles and tendons in good condition or you may seriously shorten your playing career. Having done a lot of the speed playing and unusual stretches that one runs across in playing classical violin and piano music on electric guitar, I’ve had some personal experience dealing with tendon-related problems. With the following advice, you can hopefully avoid these problems entirely and prevent them before they start. On the other hand, if you already have some problems here, find a qualified doctor to help appraise and correct your particular situation, in addition to taking the following ideas into consideration.

    First we should differentiate between muscle fatigue and actual tendon and/or nerve damage. In general, it’s fine to push yourself a little as you practice. A little "burning" sensation in the muscles of your forearm, for example, is not normally any sort of problem. That is just the muscles getting a real workout. However, if you feel discomfort, pain, numbness, or tingling in your wrist or fingers as you are practicing something, stop! Actual pain -- especially in the tendons -- is a different animal entirely apart from muscle fatigue. When it comes to tendons, ligaments, and nerves, any pain is bad pain. Pain means damage is being done, and damage should be avoided like the plague.

    Pushing yourself in spite of tendon or nerve pain is playing with fire. The more damage you do, the harder it will be to arrest and correct the situation. So don’t wait until it gets bad before you take it seriously. Modify your practice accordingly (see below) and/or seek out medical attention if needed. Also, keep in mind that the older you get, the more careful you must be. This is because things tend to become less flexible with age as well as less likely to heal as readily or completely.

    Bottom Line:

    You can generally push on through simple muscle fatigue, but if you feel pain in any tendons or get any nerve-related "strangeness," stop. Pain is damage, and damage is bad. (The next section covers specific ways to avoid causing damage.)
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    it was taken from this link http://www.stetina.com/tips.html.

    Here's also a good link deals with injuries, http://www.musicianshealth.com/

    Hope this helps.
    The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing

  12. #12
    Frequent Jammer JailHouseRock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drone
    Interesting. I am playing a lot of 3-note per string scales and melodic patterns and I find that still makes my hand hurt.

    About posture, I've found that I can't win with this. I try to sit up completely straight, but for some reason it feels llike the guitar is way down there. I also find that I generally lose some picking ability if I don't let the guitar rest on my right thigh. I used to practice with the strap raised really high, but that didn't do good things for my playing at all. I wonder if the body of the guitar is too small, because I'm kinda tall. I have an acoustic with a pretty big body but I find the frets really hard to press down,...which could be part of the reason I'm feeling pain...
    Oh, yea.. check out this sitting and standing pics.
    It comes with description of each position/postures. You might want to try it.
    - sitting
    - standing
    The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing

  13. #13
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    An update of sorts, as well as a many thanks for all the info.


    I have NOT toned down on the practice, but these last few practice sessions are telling me I should.
    Firstly, my back is in knots from sitting and playing for longer periods of time. There is tension in my back, probably due to emotional stress. Getting this rid of will undoubtedly take some work, and I have no clue where to start. Now for an update on the hand pain. My left hand is definitely not as bad as it was the day I played my acoustic (haven't touched it since), but I AM noticing some pain and strange feelings in what I THINK are the tendons. I dont feel a permanent injury has already been done, but if I don't rest my back, neck and hands, I could be in for a future injury (based on wat I've read).
    So I plan to quit playing my instument altogether and use my left hand as little as possible. This could last up to a month. I really regret this, as I was JUST starting to make progress, but I feel it necesarry. I hope this doesn't set me back to much. Thoughts?

    Also, does trilling really help yo avoid injury? I've tried it and it does work my forearm muscles and it seems to make the pain go away, if only for a short time...
    Last edited by Drone; 01-29-2005 at 12:42 PM.

  14. #14
    Groovemastah DanF's Avatar
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    Quickly (because I've addressed this a few times before):
    1. Ibuprofen
    2. Ice (15 - 20 minutes 2-3 times per day).
    3. Rest it. (If you over do it it can take up to 9 months to heal).

    Take care. When you start up again consider having your guitar setup by a professional and remember to warm up (e.g., with chromatic exercises slowly) to increase bloodflow gradually to the muscles in your forearm and the tendons in your hands.

    -Dan

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