1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Tendonitis and musicians

Discussion in 'music making & live music' started by danny la rouge, May 23, 2012.

  1. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    This is for tips and experiences.

    Despite knowing full well that I should warm up before practice, I've developed tendinitis. (It affects my ring finger on my left hand. It "sticks" in a bent position, and my forearm aches). It's a bugger. It means I can't play for I'm not sure how long.

    I'm using ice packs and generally trying to rest my left hand.

    Anyway, here's what I should have done:

    • stretching exercises.
    • starting off scales and arps routine slowly before building up speed (not that I'm a shredder).

    My normal routine is to go through the scales and arps in all the keys (round the cycle of fifths) in the 5 'caged' positions (this is guitar jargon - it's to do with how the fretboard works on a standard-tuned guitar) plus sometimes the 3-octave scales available from E as far as A. I go at roughly 120 - 152 bpm (two notes per beat). So not metal madness by any means.

    Anyway, it seems that despite having done it for years, you can still bugger up your tendons if you're not careful.
  2. southside

    southside Banned

    I always warm up before I play even though it bores me senseless but it is beneficial for my picking technique. I always start by playing the quasi chromatic 1234 on every string covering every fret up to the 12th and back down then I'll play a different combination on a single string like 1243 up to the 12th fret and back down, as I switch strings I change to a different combination like 1324 etc. I use any one of the 28 different combinations every time I do it. I may even stay using some of the less common ones just to mix it up a bit. When I practice scales I only ever play three notes per string shapes because these help to facilitate consistency across all of the strings while sequencing on 3rds 4ths 6es or what ever. When I first started doing this I was told to start from the 5th fret because the stretches are quite wide, good advice because my hands started to hurt if I were to play a three NPS Mixolydian mode sequence from the 3rd position because at those locations the frets are quite a stretch when you first start using these types of scales. I can play that shape anywhere now.

    Warmups as I've described have helped me to avoid injury. There are a lot of other things I do to mix it up. I read somewhere once "You don't find footballers running off the bench straight in to the game." made sense and it's probably the most important part of practice IMO.

    I never learned by using the CAGED system. A lot of people teach this now. I have found through trial and error that there really is no point in learning every single mode scale arp and chord if you only ever want to become a blues player, I was obsessed with theory at one point and was trapped in a diatonic hell for a few years, I've since found that it has liberated me, I'm still stuck in a box but it's quite a bit bigger than it used to be and allows me a bit more freedom of expression.

    I hope your hand gets better soon.
  3. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    Cheers, southside.

    Yeah, I didn't learn via the caged system (I'm self taught), but found it out myself by custom and practise anyway. I find it a very logical way to teach by, though (which is what I do now). I wish I'd known it as a beginner. It shouldn't be the end of your fretboard mastery, but it's a very, very useful way of conceptualising the fretboard.
  4. Psychonaut

    Psychonaut Well-Known Member

    its tendinosis you really want to worry about, since the recovery times are so much longer. I think stretching exercises are supposed to be a good preventative measure.
  5. southside

    southside Banned

    Without trying to worry danny, carpel tunnel syndrome is quite common for musicians as well.

    Be wise to get it checked out by the quacks.
  6. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    I've got an appointment for Monday.
  7. southside

    southside Banned

    Good stuff.
  8. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    I've just done Phalen's test after reading that, and fortunately I'm not getting any symptoms.
    southside likes this.
  9. littleseb

    littleseb littleseb

    i got it quite badly a couple of years ago when i prepared for a recital and over-practiced. it was really painful when i put preassure on my ring finger and it was pulling up half way my forearm. i couldn't play for a couple of months, and even after that i struggled for a while.
    yes, warming up is very important, doesn't have to be scales but can be slow and simple melodies. equally important is not to over-play and to take breaks every 45 minutes or so of at least 20 minutes. that's what got me: i had always warmed up nicely, but never allowed for rests.
    danny la rouge likes this.
  10. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    It's trigger finger. I've got anti inflammatories, and an appointment to go back for a steroid injection in the nodule at the base of my finger.
  11. cfdaan

    cfdaan New Member

    maybe it need more time to practice...
  12. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    I don't think I've ever been less plussed.
  13. colacubes

    colacubes Well-Known Member

    I used to suffer really badly when I was doing concerto solos and a lot of orchestral playing on top. And the above helped slightly, but I also had to try and improve my posture and just play a bit less with more breaks.
  14. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    do you think playing in hot places helps? i was thinking about this in a hot rehearsal room on sunday, it would also explain why mexican guitarists can play so fast. getting warmed up in a cold place musyt take much longer.
  15. colacubes

    colacubes Well-Known Member

    I don't know for definite, but anecdotally in my experience, cold is much worse. I used to play in a wind band and we often did morning concerts in bandstands and in the winter it was absolute agony (plus you can't wear gloves).
  16. rorymac

    rorymac Well-Known Member

    My own experience of trying to play with cold hands is a nightmare but nothing compared to tendinitis or (yikes) arthtritis .. (I can only imagine)

    My mum is riddled with arthritis .. hooked hands etc and her doctor told her years ago her children would be all clawed up by the time they were 30

    Thank you God so far and keep on keepin on you guys

    ps .. in prep for said afflictions it's worth noting that many guitarists .. play with 2 and 3 fingers and develop their own style

    eg Merle Travis , Jerry Reed etc .. I know that's thumbpicking but even on the left hand with open tunings etc .. you never know ?
    Greebo likes this.
  17. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    I had my injection yesterday. Crivvens, that's uncomfortable! Still stiff today. Could take a week or so to settle down, apparently, still I'm hoping it'll pay off.

    Rory, a lot of fingerpickers only used two right hand fingers - eg Rev Gary Davis, amazingly.

    But the guy who beats all for playing with only two fingers on his left hand was obviously Django. He could only use two finger after a caravan fire. (His pinky and ring finger were deformed and useless after the fire).

    This is what he did with the two fingers he could use:


    existentialist and rorymac like this.
  18. rorymac

    rorymac Well-Known Member

    Hope it works out for you danny .. let us know how you get on
    It's a brilliant thing to be able to teach and long may it continue !!

    In the meantime have you seen the way Jerry Reed used to tuck his index finger under his thumb ?

  19. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    I didn't know that, rory. That's weird. He's making things hard for himself!

    I'm going mental not being able to pick up a guitar. :(
  20. rorymac

    rorymac Well-Known Member

    Hope you're doing ok dan

    Merle Travis used only one finger and made it sound like a piano





    Not the same as tendonitis I know .. best of luck mate and keep on teachin on
    Greebo likes this.
  21. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Surrender your women and your intellectuals!

    My finger tips are really soft now. Softest they've been since I started playing guitar when I was 11. When I posted this thread I think I'd stopped playing for a week or 10 days. So that's more than a month now. That's the longest I've ever not played. Even when I was on holiday in America I managed to pick up a guitar or two.

    I'm discovering that a bit too much of my self-worth is tied into being able to play guitar. I was at a family party (my Mum's 70th) last weekend. It's the sort of family where lots of people can play something or sing, so there were performing uncles, cousins, sisters and so on. But I couldn't join in, except to sing. I've never thought my shouty growl with an octave and a half range was up to much on its own, so it was very odd. The first family gathering I can remember that I didn't play guitar since I was the age to be given ten bob by drunk relatives for singing the Jeelie Piece Song out of tune. It reminded me of sitting on the stairs listening to the grown-ups having a carry out party after the pub closed on a Saturday night.

    I nearly gave in this morning; I picked up my Les Paul telling myself it had good enough action not to constitute actually playing, before coming to my senses. And yesterday I fingered a chord on my uke before reminding myself not to. How did you cope, littleseb?

    Anyway, moan over. Nice video, rory.
  22. rorymac

    rorymac Well-Known Member

    Know what you mean re the soft fingertips danny .. it's like a mental thing and you think you're going backwards butttt I don't think it is necessarily so
    Hopefully you will be amazed when you can play again at how much you haven't lost but even gained by the break .. sounds mad I know but I hope it works that way for you.

    I play a version of this that's simpler and more in my own banjo style but I'd love to be able to play it like this guy .. for me it's a mental thing in that I get scared I won't be able to do it (and I don't have the time at the moment to learn it bar by bar til it clicks)

    I mean if I'm on form my version sounds impressive enough but I'd love to be able to do it just like he does too iykwim

    I've also found that long rests in between playing can be beneficial although (totally not) seemingly so and I hope that's what it will be for you .. like what you've lost you regain fast as you like with a new zest ?

Share This Page