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Guitar player health issues


braindig
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So I've been playing a lot of Rocksmith recently. I've decided to take my ownership of three electric guitars seriously and have started playing one hour every day between 23:00 and 00:00 (I use headphones, don't worry)

 

At first, I though that the first health issue I'll come across would be torn skin on the tips of my fingers, but since I decided to only play one hour per day, the skin just hardened, which is wonderful for guitar. My fingertips are ugly, but they're useful.

 

I've come to realize that no matter how hard I try to keep my left wrist straight, it always hurts after playing for a while. This is especially common when I play faster and more difficult sections like Desolate Motion's intro or Tornado Of Soul's intro.

 

After suffering from pains in my wrist I'd usually forcefully bend it backwards using my other hand and hold it in that position for around 15 seconds. That proved to reduce the pain faster.

 

Any tips on maintaining wrist health?

 

Also, if anyone would like to share their own guitar related health stories, tips or questions in this thread, you're very welcome to.

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I remember having this problem when I started, it felt like crap sometimes. The only advice I can give is to keep going at it, I eventually got over it and I'm now able to play fast thrash songs with no problem. It's a matter of getting the muscles in your wrist up to playing for that long or fast. Hope this helps.

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Ever heard of the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, yep, Buckethead made a great track about it.

It's the kind of injury that results by forcing speed, in which case muscles and nerves gets too much for what they are used to.

 

I had and still have some nerves inflammations in my hands and elbow, not sure if it's the guitar, the brain job with mouse and keyboard, or a bad back sitting too long.

I get rid of them by muscle training, strengthening fingers, hands and arms.

 

I know its hard to respect, but whenever you start getting fingers tensing, you should stop.

There are a lot of warm up exercises recommended by the best players on youtube. (like John Petrucci)

 

I know that instead, we just pickup up the guitar, we listen to the music, play the hell on the limit or above our level,

but we never listen to our own body.

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So basically, playing faster than my body allows causes pain?

 

I guess I should turn speed down to 75% and repeat riffs for longer before enabling acceleration.

 

Question is - if I have the riff perfectly at 75% speed (let's say I've practiced it for one hour straight), is it safe to go up to 85%? Or if I have it perfectly at 85% is it safe to go to 95% etc...?

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It's safe as long as your fingers stay relax. Relax playing is the most important factor to avoid injury.

Some song can be relax at 100% speed some other (part of) song can be very stressfull at 20%.

 

It depends on the amount of notes played in beats per second (bps)

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Well, As  mentioned above, I've been playing Megadeth so you can expect these songs to be stressful at 20%. Did you know that Dave Mustaine suffered from just this type of injury once? He says that he had to pretty much learn how to play guitar all the way from the start after he recovered from his injury.

 

EDIT: I've just looked through a few videos on YouTube regarding the matter and I realized that teachers assume that the front of the wrist (the palm side) is where it hurts. So I'd like to clarify that it's the other way around for me. It's the back of my hand that really hurts. I've noticed that I bend my wrist up quite a lot when playing barre and power chords or basically anything on the 5th or 6th string.

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Repetitive stress injury, take a 10 minute break during your hour of practice.

 

Also google around for some hand stretches, just like an athlete stretches before a game or practice you should too. Also don't go balls out right away, play a few slower warm up tunes or riffs to loosen your hand up.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, IANAD, but I do have some experience with sports medicine and this is what has worked for me. I have trigger finger, issues with carpal tunnel ... I admit it. I'm getting old. However, there are three (4?) broad types of pain.

 

1) Muscle stress. This is your muscles whining "I don't wanna do this anymore. Its too HARD!". The type of pain you get from handwriting too much. It is possible to push this to the point where you do damage, but it really takes some effort. Yeah, it's gonna hurt, just like running, riding horses, any type of physical exertion, and there's not a lot to do about this other than work through it and eventually a) you'll relax and not over stress the muscles, causing them to cramp and 2) the muscles will get stronger and less likely to cramp. Also, with guitar and especially bass, the tendons and ligaments in your left hand will stretch a LOT, meaning your muscles don't have to work as hard to get your fingers apart. This helps too.

 

2) Skin damage. This is caused by the pressure of little strings on a little area. It's annoying and you really are better off quitting before the blister stage, but what can you do. Eventually it goes away. I have scary heavy callouses on the fingertips of my left hand from playing heavy strings on an extra long scale bass. I play every day to make sure I NEVER have to deal with getting those callouses again.

 

Now we get into the nasty ones

3) Tendon/Ligament strain. A very sharp pain, often near a joint (not in it) that feels like someone shoved a needle into the connection between muscle and bone or bone and bone. Typically these are point failures, not always catastrophic, but they're a sign to STOP whatever it is you're doing immediately. Sometimes this pain will come on after you play as well. It is often related to trigger finger, which is why I don't use my pinkies. I have horrible trigger finger in both of them, and it freaking hurts to over use them. I need them to type, so I don't use them to play unless I absolutely have to. Django Reinhardt managed with 2 fingers, I can make do with 3. 

 

4) Nerve pain. This is the horrible shooting pain, often inside a joint and often will track up or down the limb. This is another, "Don't do this anymore and figure out how to not cause this pain." This one is even more critical, since nerves don't heal. I actually do better with my wrists bent a little, but I'm always very careful to not put stress on the joints while they're bent back. It's why I always use a strap and brace the guitar against the strap, not my thumb or hand. I almost play against my body, actually, using it to provide the counterforce. Don't know if it will work out in the long term, looks a little odd sometimes, but it means I can play pain free.

 

Now I do get the occasional 1 if I'm playing a lot of something repetitive, but I now have enough experience to even change fingering if I have to. No biggie, and unless you keep those muscles locked for an extended period of time, no harm really. Number 2, well, thank goodness that stage is over. Unless I get sucked into playing my baritone for 3-4+ hours, I'm good. (It has happened. I got distracted.) Numbers 3 and 4, well, those I pay attention to and avoid like the plague. They pop up and I find a way around them.

 

Hope that helps some. Like I said, I Am Not A Doctor, but ... muscles and skin heal, that's how they strengthen, actually. Tendons often scar badly and nerves don't heal at all. 

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I force myself to drink water for muscles.

I don't play the same song more than 2-3 times, it seems to me that the exact same chords/exact same fingers position repeated too much causes stress on nerves/muscles and lead to pain.

you may progress slower, but in the end if you've got serious injury you'll completely stop.

 

I warmup with 1-2 songs i master at 85/90% mini, then i can switch on more difficult songs and play several hours without pain.

 

I know when i have to calm down (when you play a long fast BPM section and you feel the muscles heating and the number of notes you hit sudenly start to decrease as the heat increase).

In this case i play another song and if it happens on another song, i stop playing guitar for the day.

following those rules allow me to play 4h or more if i want, but i stop if i feel something bad even if i've only play few song and i would like to continue.

I've never play more than 7h the same day with little pauses here and there.

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I played guitar for a few months (music teacher forced a group of us) and that destroyed my wrist as we had to play more then we could handle, switched to bass wrist is better could play longer are harder now it hurts again after moving a VW engine months ago but now healing, jsut take you time in it all

 

I have ADD ADHD and other mental health which isnt as bad but with those 2 I forget song and stuff so rocksmith helps me remember but I get bored and move on to harder stuff which messese my wrist more

Shit Bassist GG WP

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Ganglion ?

 

I played guitar for a few months (music teacher forced a group of us) and that destroyed my wrist as we had to play more then we could handle, switched to bass wrist is better could play longer are harder now it hurts again after moving a VW engine months ago but now healing, jsut take you time in it all

 

I have ADD ADHD and other mental health which isnt as bad but with those 2 I forget song and stuff so rocksmith helps me remember but I get bored and move on to harder stuff which messese my wrist more

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Nah

It really only shows playing fast intense songs or chords

Ganglion ?

 

I played guitar for a few months (music teacher forced a group of us) and that destroyed my wrist as we had to play more then we could handle, switched to bass wrist is better could play longer are harder now it hurts again after moving a VW engine months ago but now healing, jsut take you time in it all

 

I have ADD ADHD and other mental health which isnt as bad but with those 2 I forget song and stuff so rocksmith helps me remember but I get bored and move on to harder stuff which messese my wrist more

 

Shit Bassist GG WP

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I force myself to drink water for muscles.

I don't play the same song more than 2-3 times, it seems to me that the exact same chords/exact same fingers position repeated too much causes stress on nerves/muscles and lead to pain.

you may progress slower, but in the end if you've got serious injury you'll completely stop.

 

I warmup with 1-2 songs i master at 85/90% mini, then i can switch on more difficult songs and play several hours without pain.

 

I know when i have to calm down (when you play a long fast BPM section and you feel the muscles heating and the number of notes you hit sudenly start to decrease as the heat increase).

In this case i play another song and if it happens on another song, i stop playing guitar for the day.

following those rules allow me to play 4h or more if i want, but i stop if i feel something bad even if i've only play few song and i would like to continue.

I've never play more than 7h the same day with little pauses here and there.

 

I have a very similar routine and second just about everything except the water part .  I find the Captain or Beer to be much better to keep the old muscles loose lol, true but lol.  I really only seriously started playing when the original RS launched and all the things the O.P. is describing are totally normal as you are progressing and getting stronger.

 

 Eventually your callouses will never peel again and you will have iron finger tips.  I call the wrist lock "Da PUMP!" and it will happen less and less.  To elaborate on what Frack said if I get excited and rushed I will clamp my muscles tight, calm and loose is faster and less fatiguing.  If you stick with it and use generally sound technique you will eventually be able to for hours and hours with no problem.... I always play standing so its usually around hour 4-5 my back starts to hurt worse than anything else. 

 

Good luck and stick with it!

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I was getting wrist pain and was diagnosed with tendonitis. It wasn't actually caused by playing my bass but I do a LOT of crochet and of which was the main cause of the tendonitis. Playing bass aggravated it somewhat though which made me sad as I felt I couldn't play as long as I'd like without permanently damaging myself. I did wear a temporary wrist support which helped for everyday stuff but was a hinderance when playing bass (or crocheting). A friend of mine suggested I do weights, so I started doing dumbbell lifts and recently bought a bench press (because I enjoyed the additional training) and honestly, it's worked a treat. I play for several hours a night and the nice thing about doing weights is you only need to do 1 or 2 sets from the start to begin building your wrist strength. It's not a solution for everyone as I don't know how your overall fitness is but, if you do have an already good level, try it. ( Disclaimer: Make sure you look for some instruction on the type of weights/what load is suitable for you etc first though... don't want you dropping a 30kg load on your head.)  ;)

 Mortalo, on 11 Feb 2015 - 11:36 AM, said:

Ok, because of poor results and overall lack of skill @NoonyDeloony gets downgraded to Advanced. She would be forever remembered as shameful person... and then she'll make another charming video and we'll forget about that.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NoonyDeloony/videos

Twitching bass unskillfully, here: https://www.twitch.tv/noonydeloony

 

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