Adult Newbie: Days Off to Rest Muscles?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by fu22ba55, Feb 23, 2014.


  1. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    How often should I REST (take days off) to heal during my first year of upright?

    Played electric for 30 years. Switched to upright. I've been taking lessons for about 7 months now… progressing nicely with a local instructor.

    The worst part of learning upright? FORCING myself to take the occasional day off to heal.

    I'm not talking about calluses… those are fine.

    I'm talking about resting my hands and arms and back muscles so they can heal… just like when running (which I used to do) or lifting weights (which I've never done)… it seems my muscles reach a point of diminishing returns, where no amount of practice makes the bass seem easier to play and I sense the potential danger of straining my left pinky or pizz hand.

    Right now I'm practicing about 2-3 hours per day maximum (in three one-hour sessions), and taking one day OFF about every 5 days or so to heal.

    When should I expect to be strong enough to practice nearly every day? One year in? two years in? How long does it take for an adult student to develop the muscle tone to play this thing?
  2. SeaMist_au

    SeaMist_au

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    Physio told me that if you exercise your larger muscles as you do when playing bass then you need downtime to let them heal. If you just keep stressing them instead of building up they will break down. I suggest you get your own independent advice from a professional physiotherapist who can look you over and gauge how well your body is adapting.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

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    It's not only muscles. After heavy training and practising, your whole playing benefits of a few days of complete pause.
  4. bassist1962

    bassist1962

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    Playing this instrument is very much an athletic event and training, rest , diet, etc., need to be treated as such.
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  6. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

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    Don't need a day off- if you are sore, stretch your fingers and stop playing after 10 minutes.
  7. SeaMist_au

    SeaMist_au

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    Um yes. Don't do that. To play the bass you need to build up the strength and resilience to last two or three hours. It takes time, rest, practice, stretching, heat if your shoulders are sore. If you push yourself too early too hard you only injure yourself and like a horrible game of real life snakes and ladders you will be back at square one ( or two or three). If you body tells you to stop.....stop.
    Over time you will be able to play longer and longer. If something consistently hurts get someone experienced, maybe a teacher, to check your technique.
    Above all, be kind to yourself.......mentally and physically....
  8. Groove Doctor

    Groove Doctor

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    Which strings are you using?
    Has your instrument had a professional setup?
    Are you in a physical job?
    Do you do any exercise - cardio, stretching, or strength training?


    Lighter gauge strings, pro setup, and regular gentle exercise would be where I would start.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

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    Yeah, this isn't heavy lifting. You'll be better off taking breaks during your practice or limiting your practice every day as you build your physical approach. If you take a day (or more) off in between practice sessions, you're almost starting from scratch, instead of building on a foundation.
  10. SeaMist_au

    SeaMist_au

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    I'm outa here.....
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

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    You're certainly free to do whatever you'd like. I'm 58, not in particularly great shape, don't really exercise. But I don't have any problems playing a 4 hour continuous without an amp. Or in practicing every day.
    The area in which I'd like more strength is carrying that bad boy up and down subway platform stairs. THAT is weight training.
  12. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

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    What I was trying to say is, even on your worst day, play a minimum of 10 minutes. Taking an entire day off kills your routine bigtime.
  13. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    I think resting one day a week is fine to do, especially with your pretty intense practice routine. I play 5-6 nights a week with some practicing during the day and find that day off refreshes me quite a bit.

    Ed, I don't know how you do it, the days of 4 hour continuous (with or without an amp) are over for me!
  14. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Strings: Heliocore Hybird Medium (standard)
    Setup: Professional by reputable shop. My teacher and the shop both say my action is average-to-low.
    Job: cerebral, not physical
    Exercise: light cardio twice a week, and some maintenance stretches and light resistance-band workout leftover from my physical therapy days years ago.
  15. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    So… One Long Session vs. Three Shorter Sessions?

    Thanks for insight and responses.

    You guys have kind of raised another question for me… from an endurance and muscle-building perspective, which is better?

    a) One LONG practice session (warm up… work out for a couple hours, warm down… done for the day)

    b) Several shorter sessions

    It definitely takes a while to get warmed up and "in the zone." Better to sustain that mode as long as possible each day once warm? Or break up into smaller sessions?

    Goal is to slowly and safely build muscles and endurance for the long haul. Bruce Lee muscles, not Lou Feriggno muscles...
  16. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    Resting a couple of days forces you to avoid burnout too.

    And it's not about hours or time. It's all about quality and the quality of your focus/concentration at that time. In many cases, 20 minutes of effective and focused practicing is worth more than an 2 hours of endless noodling.

    I would practice is as many spurts as possible. 20-30 minutes at a time and take breaks in between. They key is short and focused - that's been very successful for me.

    Rather than one long session, or 3, i'd do 10 short sessions. That and get lots of sleep as possible.
  17. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Previously tcl Gold Supporting Member

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    Lots of good advice. Not sure how many contributors are thinking back to when they started on the URB and remembering what it was like then. Some of them may have to think back 40 years!
    Here's my two cents: Don't take a day off. Try to play everyday. I say that because in the beginning as you're training your mind to hear the correct pitch - intonation - I found that taking a day off set me back a bit. Not much, but definitely slowed my progress.
    Do treat the physical aspect like any other kind of physical conditioning. Work up to it slowly. Playing say, an hour a day for a week and then increasing to 75 a day the next week or two. If your hands feel tired the next day, not just a bit stiff, but tired, reduce your practice time down a bit for a week. Take breaks during your session. Play pizz for 15 minutes and then acro. Alternate.
    Everybody's different, but smart physical conditioning will keep you from getting side-lined from injuries. You're preparing for an event more like a marathon, which requires proper conditioning and technique, IMO.
  18. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    Some days you will need to throttle up/down. It all depends too.

    I'm the contrary to TCL. Taking a few days off after weeks of continuous practicing helped me improve without practicing (isn't that convenient?). It somehow helps my mind to unlearn certain bad habits. This is something I've noticed since childhood - I always play better after a 1-2 day break followed by multiple days of practice.

    The mind needs time to digest new information. It's also why sleep is so important and there's more and more studies showing that information retention is better if you have ample sleep.
  19. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Previously tcl Gold Supporting Member

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    Huy, did you find that even when you first started out? That's interesting. Just proves different strategies work well for different folks. I find that to be the case now, that a day off helps solidify, or perhaps clarify, ideas and technique nuances, but when I started out, skipping a day set me back. Skipping a week made my first practice back downright unpleasant. It seems once I've, for lack of a better word, *obtained* a skill, I can slack on it a bit with brief refreshers every now and again. Solid time is a good example - purge me of bad habits as you say. Good sleep is definitely important to the learning process for me.
  20. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    You cannot build stamina without building Stamina. You need to go for long sessions. Playing 10 minutes a session 5 times a day will give you the stamina to play ten minutes.

    You should look into the Rabbath stuff for how to use the weight of your arms and your bones to play the bass, with much less effort than your muscles.
  21. powerbass

    powerbass

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    Three hours a day is a lot of practice time for an adult UB student and seven months is not a long time to be playing an UB. I would be concerned about you over doing it and developing a repetitive strain injury. "Too much, too soon" is a saying about athletes who try to increase their training and end up injured. It takes time for the body to adapt to stress, gradual increases (frequency, intensity, duration) over a period of time is best. There are things you can do to help your body adapt to the stress of UB playing: listen to your body, don't force it to do what it can't do comfortably (don't play in pain), learn to stretch, breathe deep and relax, get a massage and learn how to do self massage, engage in exercise, learn to meditate, do yoga the list goes on. You cannot rush the learning process or force your body to do what it hasn't learn to do. As mentioned low tension strings and lower string height combined w/learning solid technique goes a long way.

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