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trubadour's forarm

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trubadour's forarm

Postby Handlestash » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:16 pm

Off the back of my previous post about rehearsal, I'm experiencing some pretty sharp pain in my right wrist from strumming (yes strumming). Should I push through or rest up for a couple of days?
This never happened to me when I was a younger man. Why did I neglect my playing?
:frown:
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Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby grab » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:17 am

Rest. Pain is nature's way of saying you're injuring yourself. Also avoid anything else that can aggravate it, if possible - keeping typing to a minimum would be one thing.

And look at your technique and posture to see if there's anything which could be a trigger. Low-slung guitars are an ergonomic no-no, for one thing. :frown:
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Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby Handlestash » Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:43 pm

Thanks Grab, that's really helpful. I do wear my guitar on the downlow so I'll look at that.
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Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby tomafd » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:05 pm

Yep - I play a totally mad instrument called an 'array mbira' which is basically one of those african thumb pianos, though on a very grand scale, played with the fingers, not the thumbs. When I first got it I used to get all kinds of odd pains, mostly in the right arm, and found that posture (straight back) and height of the instrument relative to me made all the difference. I do sometimes still get some problems (though now it's in the left arm) but I find that balancing the need to practice against the need to rest works quite well- you do need to build up the strength in the tendons and muscles to cope with the work (and that means practice) but too much and you never give them time to heal properly. Basically - practice up to when it starts to hurt, every day, then leave off. With any luck you'll build up strength slowly and your arm will be able to cope with a little bit more every day until you don't get any problems.

Though if like me you are, ahem, rather a long way on the wrong side of 40 ... these things will happen. We aren't 20 anymore, and we just have to live with it.
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Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:09 pm

Assess your monitoring arrangements. If you're playing harder than you need to it not only sound harsh (and you might be the last to know) it can stress your tendons which shows up as Carpal (might be spelt wrong) tunnel stress. If you're feeling it where your thumb meets your wrist then that's a pretty good bet.
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Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby Handlestash » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:22 pm

I don't use monitors while rehearsing, just stand in the middle of the room and let fly.
The pain is about 3 inches up my arm from where my thumb meets my wrist. I hope it's not CTS. I'd say it's just from not having consistently played acoustic guitar in about 6 years.
I was shocked at how rusty my playing was, now I'm shocked at how rusty my tendons/muscles are.
But I guess when you start playing and spend a number of years building up your skills you don't notice these things, initially you can't play well enough to be bothered playing for protracted periods then as you get better you play for longer and build up your strength.
To think that I lived off the spoils of busking for a whole year when I was 18, now I have to have a sit down after rehearsing a few covers... I'm only 32!
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Re: trubadour's forarm

Postby grab » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:10 pm

Given the location in your arm and the fact you say you've not played for a while, a first guess might be that you're gripping the pick like a one-armed gorilla on the last vine over Angel Falls. ;)

I had the same problem when I started playing with a pick, having spent 10 years only doing fingerstyle. I tried to relax my grip, but of course then I'd drop the pick inside the guitar, which got boring very quickly, and embarrassing when playing in public!

The solution for me was simply to use a bigger pick. It sounds daft, but it really does work - more leverage from your fingers and more friction from a larger surface area equals a more secure grip with less effort. Get yourself a few Jim Dunlop Tortex Triangles and see how they feel. I'm OK with smaller picks now, but I still prefer my big undroppable Triangles - there's something reassuringly solid about how they feel in my hand.

Another alternative is to use a thinner pick, so the pick bends instead of kicking back on your fingers as much, but generally you don't get as good tone from a thin pick. The Dava Control is an interesting compromise - a thicker pick with grooves to make it flexible in the middle. They didn't work for me, but I had a clear-out of my old picks and the guy who I gave them to now swears by them.
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