Topical Discussion: Tendonitis-the silent guitar player killer

Discussion in 'Lifestyle, Health, Fitness & Food' started by theclap, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. theclap

    theclap SS.org Regular

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    A few of my friends over the past year that play guitar have gotten tendonitis. This to the guitar player is basically a death sentence. My guitar teacher my freshman year at college had tendonitis in his picking hand so bad that he can never hold a pick again after getting 2 masters and a dr in philosophy of music. granted, he was able to develope an alright way of playing with his hands, but we all know the the thought "I wish I could use a pick right now" is probably in his head every second. This also seems to be one of those conditions where it really differs person by person. My friend had tendonitis for a month after jamming too much at a hippy music festival. My one friend who practices religously every day for about 9 years just got it at the end of august and still can't play! so as you can see the mildness to severity is very extreme in range varying from one month to forever. Also both of my friends had/have it in their left hand while my old guitar teacher has it in his right. I have been worrying about this recently as I've been having numbing problems in my left pinky and ring finger but i found out it was due to the nerve running through your arm across the funny bone to your two fingers, ulnar nerve i believe it's called. basically it happened because i bend my arms when i sleep and sleep in odd positions, you gotta mix it up sometimes even when you're alone ;). the chiropractor was able to fix that after he was done contorting my whole body. I've also had a few pains in my left forearm but i believe they are related. I've also been taking extra precaution to practicing. I've been playing a lot of AAL and ERG lately so my right hand ystability and accuracy and left hand agility have been pushed very hard the past 3-4 months. I've been warming up for20-30 minutes every day before even thinking about playing. Especially with the winter season in effect in my area, my hands tend to be freezing for the first 5-10 minutes of playing. Does any one have any practices or techniques or stretches for tendonitis that are targeted towards guitar players? This is something i wouldnt even wish on the jonas brothers, if they actually play guitar I've never payed that much attention to them to know if they do or if they're just faking. And any stories or comments on the topic would be nice!
     
  2. Mordacain

    Mordacain 1-watt brigadier

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    There are plenty of stretches that can be done to help protect against tendinitis.

    Petrucci has a good set:

     
  3. Randy

    Randy Ooh, Degrasse Tyson-son Super Moderator

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    Stretches are very helpful but ultimately, the circumstances that cause tendinitis or muscle strains in guitar players in general come from flawed technique.

    Guthrie Govan and Martin Goulding both talk about the threat of tendinitis at length. Martin has a few speed picking exercises and at some point while going through them, he mentions that you might feel tension in your forearm as you're doing the exercises (cue me going "Wow, that does fucking hurt, doesn't it?) and if you concentrate on it, you can 'unflex' your arm and still get the same kind of speed without harming yourself. If you start feeling too tight, taking a break and just "shaking out" for a few seconds, then just letting your arms go slack until any bit of noticeable tension is gone helps.

    Also, when I started getting into playing more technical music, I started raising the height of my guitar so that my left arm had more 'left and right' range of motion while I was playing. The unfortunate side effect, however, was that my right arm had to curl to the point that it was almost in a "flexing" position (especially when I played my lower strings). The constant flexing of my bicep started causing a very distinct pain whenever I'd play for long periods, then it became shorter periods, then eventually it'd kick in whenever I just put the guitar on. To get rid of it, I lowered my guitar to exactly where it would lay if I were playing sitting around and with my back straight; and I haven't had a problem since.
     
  4. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

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    I'm currently waiting to get a couple other 'big ticket items' taken care of (not purchases; I meant big ticket metaphorically..) so I can finally schedule a doctor visit to deal with my hand issues. I think I have advanced carpel tunnel AND tendonitis.

    ...In case anyone's wondering why I haven't posted any guitar music in a long time.. ;)

    Anyway, I hate it. I absolutely fucking hate it. I pick up a guitar, and my brain knows exactly what it wants my hands to do, and my hands just refuse to cooperate. While I'm quite proud of where I am as a player stylistically, in terms of technical ability my teenage self SMOKES my current self.

    You know that little lump of muscle that sits between your thumb and pointer finger? Somewhere over the last few years, that entire chunk of muscle has completely disappeared from my left hand. That part of my hand looks skeletal now. Honestly, I'm so used to my hands being fucked that I didn't even notice it was happening until my sister pointed it out one day while we were sitting at a table together, and at that point it wasn't mid-process; the muscle was already just GONE. Combine that with the fact that I used to be able to do the Spock 'live long and prosper' hand sign with both hands, and now my left hand just refuses to do it. I also used to be able to 'lock' fingers on both hands at the 2nd knuckle, and now I can't do that on my left hand any more -- haven't been able to for years, now.

    Such are the pitfalls of being a guitar player, a video gamer, and someone who's job requires them to be typing and mouse clicking for 8 hours a day, only to go home and do more typing and clicking when not playing guitar or games.
     
  5. theclap

    theclap SS.org Regular

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    Mordacain, that was a great video. My chiropractor showed me one of those stretches; it definitely gets the juices flowing. It's good that JP points out the shoulders and back area that you want to get. I know a lot of guys that neglect the fact and just stretch their hands. I try to stretch every morning and in between long periods of sitting. No homo, I find it very relaxing and rejuvenating.

    I looked into this and was really able to hone in on my problem areas in my right hand alternatepicking technique. though, lately, i've recently been getting into the habit of circle picking all of my tremolo picking.

    I definitely tend to play up higher as well. I like to be able to sit up straight and have the body of the guitar right on top of my abdomen. my elbow is bent bewtween 90-110 degrees and my forearm is intersecting with the strings at about 45 degrees while having my hand and pick at various angles for different right handed techniques, etc. this keeps the leg contour's vertex of say a strat about 3.5 inches away from my thigh while sitting up straight. It's just a habit because im a big time sloucher. I've been playing a lot more at thigh height while sitting up straight recently on my 6 string, but my 7 seems to be so much more comfortable up higher so i can wrap around a little more.

    good luck, man. I really hope you are able to recover. I don't know what I would do. I would probably just program a lot of drums or switch to hip hop lol...just kidding
     
  6. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

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    That's how I keep myself going, actually. I mean, not hip hop specifically, but just general music production. I'd go insane otherwise. ;)
     
  7. MrMcSick

    MrMcSick Derp

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    My long time friend has this. He was hands down the best bass player I've ever played with/known. We started out playing death metal and eventually ended up in jazz/funk before he had to give it up. He could do all five finger tremlo picking which is absolutely amazing. Chord tapping with 1 hand and melody tapping with the other at the same time. ughhh he made me sick at how good he was. So sad.
     
  8. chimpinatux

    chimpinatux SS.org Regular

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    I find that when you feel a bit of wrist pain coming on, wearing one of these compression wristbands before/after, or even during playing helps a lot


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. TreWatson

    TreWatson Pro Thread Killer

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    unrelated, but i have a sprained wrist at the moment.

    compression bandages are a godsend to helping to stop injury if you have pain. seriously.
     
  10. G-Master G

    G-Master G SS.org Regular

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    This thread is quite old but the issue never goes away so I will add to it. I won't go into the details here but you can ask questions of me if you want. The only treatment that will actually fix the damage that playing does to the tendons in your wrist and your arms/elbows is PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections.

    I know this because of the science behind PRP and also the fact that I have just spent the last 5 months recovering from tendonitis in my elbow which got so bad that I could not hold a pick.

    Having had PRP treatments in the past for a raft of soft tissue damage sustained in my 20s as a triathlete I knew there was only one way to fix the problem. I had injections every 6 weeks for 4 months and I am back to playing better than ever with no loss of speed, dexterity or tactile response.

    It does not matter how mild or bad or for how long you have had tendonitis, PRP will fix it because it is the only treatment that actually repairs the tendon - nothing else will promote the growth of new tissue (collagen) and re-attach the tendon to the bone.

    Cheers

    Grant
     
  11. RedDog22

    RedDog22 SS.org Regular

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    I had a very demanding manufacturing job back in 2002 that caused severe tendonitis. I looked into both natural & synthetic compounds to alleviate it. Never did take any and left the job after 14 months.

    My current job is physically demanding, not as much as the other one, and I'm concerned its going to affect my fretting & picking.
     
  12. Baelzebeard

    Baelzebeard Grinder of strings

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    I had some really bad tendonitis in my right shoulder. I could hardly lift my arm away from my body without severe pain. After xrays to rule out skeletal issues my doctor put me on a regimen of icing 3 times a day and an anti-inflammatory ointment,(sorry, can't remember the name) and after a few weeks and ever since , (about two years running) my shoulder has been pain free. Tendonitis can be treatable in my experience.
     
  13. onefingersweep

    onefingersweep SS.org Regular

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    First, adjust your technique. Randy said it in post #3. If you get tendonitis from playing guitar your technique is bad.

    Secondly, train your hands and forearms in all possible ways you can but especially the extensors, then you will not be so vulnerable to inflammation and injuries from the elbow and down.
     
  14. bio_sem

    bio_sem SS.org Regular

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    Rest is one of the essentials of health. Overexertion + bad alignment/technique =really bad scenario. If you practice/work to exhaustion and pain, you're also working your nervous system to exhaustion bringing it out of homeostasis. When you don't rest for long periods, you shut off the parasympathetic side of the nervous system- which is in charge of healing and recovery (notice lots of people get sick or get injured when they're constantly tired?). Shut off the healing response long enough, you start to develop chronic issues. Rest and stretching is good, but also find a practitioner (like yours truly) who can bring your body back into homeostasis. I actually went into the health field after suffering from tendinitis&carpal tunnel as the result of practicing 10 hours a day, then making a recovery. I'm not gonna praise one kind of health technique, but I strongly suggest looking into how the nervous system can heal our motor functions. The autonomic nervous system controls motor and sensory nerves so healing at that level is deeper than the muscular skeletal level. Muscle-skeletal treatment is good if the trauma altered the anatomy, but its kinda superficial if your chronic complaint is a reflection of your nervous system's defense physiology.

    In other words, if you want to prevent tendinitis or CTS, don't overwork yourself-- listen to the body. If you already have it, find treatments that can balance out the nervous system.
     

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