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Overpractice Physical Symptoms

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Fatherflot, May 19, 2011.

  1. Fatherflot

    Fatherflot Member

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    Hi guys:

    I found myself with a entire week with absolutely nothing to do but play guitar, right after getting an awesome new boost pedal. Long story short, I've been basically playing almost nonstop all day and night. It's heaven to me, but now I'm starting to get some physical symptoms. I can live with the sore fingertips, even sore finger, elbow, and shoulder joints (hey I'm in my 40's), but now I'm getting a strange kind of "electrical charge" effect in my fretting arm (around the forearm) when I reach for certain chords. Is this something to be concerned about? Am I courting carpal tunnel syndrome or something? Do I need to give it a rest for a while?
     
  2. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    Go to your Asian masseuse and have her rub it out for you ;-)

    If that doesn't work....

    My chiropractor took four excruciating sessions work the tendons apart. Now I do a couple basic exercises daily.

    1. Hold your fretting arm straight out, parallel to the ground, with your hand up in the "Halt!" position.
    2. Pull your four fingers back with your other hand, slowly to the limit. Hold 20 seconds or so. Release. Repeat 4-5 times. This will stretch out and separate your forearm tendons. You can alternate whole hand with finger by finger. You should also do it in the other direction (fingers pointing down, palm facing you).

    Since there's often compensating stress in the shoulder ...

    1. Go to a doorway.
    2. Extend your fretting arm out to your side, upper arm parallel to the floor, forearm going up and perpendicular to the floor.
    3. Put your forearm and hand against the door jam.
    4. Rotate your body away from your arm (rotate clockwise if it's your left arm)
    5. Find the maximum stretch-but-not-painful point and hold it for 20 seconds or so.
    6. Repeat for a total of three times.
     
  3. Fatherflot

    Fatherflot Member

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    Thanks. That's advice I can use immediately. I've still got three more days to play and I want to use them all.
     
  4. champion ruby

    champion ruby Member

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    I do these at the start and a couple hours in, if I'm practicing for long periods of time. Very helpful.

     
  5. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I've seen guys overpractice and not be able to play for years. Keep that in mind. Take a break.
     
  6. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    No, you're courting tendinitis. I was sidelined with exactly that. If you're getting that "electric charge' feeling, you've most likely already gone too far. Stretch, take frequent breaks, ice it after stress and if it continues see a doctor immediately.
     
  7. Fatherflot

    Fatherflot Member

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    I'm taking more breaks now will definitely be on the lookout for tendinitis symptoms.

    Time not spent actually playing can be put towards theory study and memorizing the fretboard. Also listening practice: just a little while ago I was listening to track and thought----hey, that's a 13th! Bottom line: there are all kinds of ways to get better at music.
     
  8. Chuckwalla

    Chuckwalla Supporting Member

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    I'm fighting tendinitis now in my hand and wrist. It's not fun. I had taken a long break from playing, about 5 years. Then started back about eight months ago, playing a lot in the beginning, which was a big mistake. I had my first symptoms about two months after starting. The pain got so bad I couldn't play more that a few minutes. Now, after two months of anti inflammatory meds, I can play for a few hours without much pain. So, don't over do it.
     
  9. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Tendinitis is nothing to screw around with. It can completely end your playing days.
     
  10. Structo

    Structo Member

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    Yep stretch and flex exorcises are great.

    Many companies now require it at the start of the day to prevent accidents and repetitive motion injuries.
     
  11. marcher5877

    marcher5877 Member

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    water water water water....

    I really can't stress this enough. I am convinced that 90% of the human population is dehydrated. I have a theory that you take the average person off the street, and after one week of proper hydration, they could run a marathon.

    water water water water....
     
  12. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    I suffer from chronic tendonitis. I play piano, guitar, and do too much work on the computer. The piano thing came up first. It happened when I initially got my grand before I had it rebuilt. The action was too stiff. I fought through the pain. I ended up taking 4 months off -- coincided with the rebuild. Still the damage had already been done. That was in 1996. By 2000 I ended up spending $1800 to reschool technique so I could play again.

    Then I took up guitar. Due to thumb issues I cannot play with the thumb behind the neck due to the way my thumb joint works or doesn't work. I tried learning the "correct" way. I ended up a year at the hand therapist for overpractice and this problem. I cannot practice more than an hour. I cannot play full barre chords the normal way -- thumb wrap on the E6 I can do but I cannot play a thin/wide profile neck. I need a neck on a guitar like that on a G&L or ESP. Gibsons? I can play them fine so long as I don't try barre chords.

    Because of the tendon and CTS problems I've realized I will never be fast on the guitar. I have to work within my limitations. So technical music is off limits. Blues, blues/rock and rhythm will have to do. If something I'm working on now needs a technical guitar part, I'll do it on the keyboard with a top notch VI because that's the only way I can do it.

    My right hand is fine. The problems are in my left hand.

    Warm up sufficiently. the tingling in your hands are telling you to take some time off. This means no playing. You're injured. RICE = rest and ice it at first. Then heat and ice. Then start back slowly. 10 minutes the first three days, then up to 20 minutes the next three. If you feel pain or tingling stop and go back one step. Increase by 5 mins a day from there.

    Before playing I apply moist heat to my forearm and wrist. After playing I put a cold pack on it. I survive. Drink plenty of water.
     
  13. JimGtr

    JimGtr Member

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    Good advice here. When you do ease back into playing raise the strap and watch your technique.
     
  14. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Interesting....when I was having bad tendinitis issues (and still have the occasional minor flare-up), my G&L guitars have proven to be just about the only thing I can play that doesn't aggravate it
     
  15. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I practised too much once. I got too good.
    Never again... :D
     
  16. champion ruby

    champion ruby Member

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    Completely agree, I am also a lot more patient at rehearsals if I've got some water to suck down. Also using a computer for a long period of time and then practicing is :nono one of the biggest causes of poor circulation.
     
  17. mcgraham

    mcgraham Member

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    Some great advice and helpful warning here. I'm very fortunate with my playing health, but I am quite obsessive about taking care of my body in that regard and am attentive to what my body is saying.

    I play bass primarily, but technically demanding stuff (Feraud, Garrison, Grey, Gwizdala, etc). Although my touch is light and efficient, it is still physically demanding in a greater way than guitar. My ritual is I stretch forearms a number of times (in the manner suggested above) for 5-10 secs each and then stretch each finger on both hands gently before plucking a single note. I have a series of warm up exercises that I go through from slow metronome speeds to fast, and take small breaks and stretch again between metronome increases too - these stretches/breaks decreasing in frequency as I get up to speed. I also pay attention (though less consciously and more unconsciously now) to any tension or additional effort I may exert when playing fast compared to when playing slow, and ensure I address this each step of the way - that way I'm building on a solid foundation that means effortless and consistent playing at all speeds.

    And +1 to the hydration - serious singers and serious classical guitarists have what seem like crazy rituals to be in top shape, but that is why they are the best at what they do.
     
  18. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Not to mention dystoinia from overpracticing. Liona Boyd has it and ended her great playing career. She said she developed it from practicing repetitious exercises. Very sad.

    I've dealt with nerve issues and tendonitis a lot too for the past two years. Ice everyday a lot. I've been to all kinds of docs, and it's tough because sometimes they can't quite determine where the prob is. Tingling and electric feelings are nerves and their funny. It could hurt in one area and be in a totally other area anywhere it runs it's path.

    Good luck, take all the good advice in and use common sense.
     
  19. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I see a lot of people saying "tendonitis" but isn't that tingling feeling actually carpal tunnel syndrome?

    The "test" is to put your hand straight out, palm down, and flick the two middle fingles with your other hand. If you feel a tingle all the way to the elbow it is carpal tunnel syndrome.

    There was a rash of CTS victims when the mouse was a new tool.

    I know a lot of people get surgery for this - but I once had it really bad and just found that taking a break on my playing made it go away. The surgery often leaves people with less mobility than they had before.

    I suggest alternative methods before you do anything drastic.
     
  20. tweedster

    tweedster Member

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    The instrument is important too. I can't play a neck that is more than 1 3/4" at the nut. I had a Martin 000-28vs I had to let go because the 1-13/16" neck would kill me. One hour with it, and I couldn't play for 2 weeks. 1-3/4" or less - no problems.
     

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