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Absolute newbie with question about right shoulder

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kolai, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. kolai


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quick background: I'm absolutely new to bass , have had one lesson and that was this week. I have practised at home but kept it to approx 40 minutes.

    The next day I noticed my right shoulder was sore/achey/warm feeling.

    Prior to having bass lessons I have spent the best part of a year having weekly treatment/therapy on my shoulder, so it's not the best to begin with anyway.

    I have read conflicting info re beginner aches and pains and stress etc. I note a number of people say there should be no pain and there are those that say there will be some discomfort as you are using muscles in ways that they haven't been used before (or for a long time).

    I have watched the havic5 right hand video and was to bass my right hand on this . i.e having the shoulder as the mechanism that held up the forearm and in turn this linked to a straight wrist. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd been using the shoulder too much and pulling it up too high, as in if you looked at me my shoulders wouldn't be at he same height (the right would be higher). I'm gonna try again and use a mirro this time.

    I did notice this morning while looking at the different ways the shoulder could move that one may be able to move the elbow further out from the body (if you imagine you were standing on a clock face you be moving the elbow around the clock face anti-clockwise.

    So ...I guess I was wantin some more insight into 'do beginners really never feel discomfort or pain ' after there first lesson ? I know my technique wont be perfect straight off .
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Pain should never be experienced when playing the bass. This is not to be confused with the burning feeling
    often experienced. This is a build up of lactic acid, and the burning sensation usually goes if the hand is rested for about ten or fifteen seconds.

    As far as your shoulder is concerned, it would appear that you are hunching them without realising it. This is probably aggravating the problem that is already there. It is easier said than done when you are a beginner, but try to relax the whole body when playing. Take a few slow deep breaths before you start, and try to breathe slowly and deeply when playing.

    Your idea of using a mirror is a great one. You should be able to see if you are hunching your shoulders.

    The height at which you wear the bass could also be a factor. This is a personal choice, but a general accepted compromise is to have it at the same height when both sitting and standing, i.e. the main body of the bass at around belt buckle height.
  3. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Do some stretches on the muscles of your chest and the front of your shoulder each day, should help to prevent you pulling the shoulder forward unconsciously. Also maybe look up exercises for the serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles - strengthen those up to give your shoulders a bit more balance.
  4. kolai


    Jul 21, 2011
    Cool thanks for the replies. In terms of the height I have been sitting down and not using a strap (perhaps I should as sometimes it felt like it was going to slip off my lap/leg)

    I'll do the stretches as suggested (similar to the program,me given to me by teh physiotherapist)

    I'll also give it a few more days before pick up the bass again and see if it clears up. I don't want to aggravate it and just try to push in through it. After my previous couple of years I wouldn't want to wish a bad shoulder on anyone.

    Anyone else reading with this a potential injury..get that ish looked at by a professional..I know it sounds cheesey and like cliche but it's so dam true.
  5. lebaron


    Sep 13, 2008
    Well the human body is far from symmetrical and can be even more out of balance if you stress, sit wrong etc. But if you feel pain, consult your doctor asap.

    Having that said, pay notice to how you sit and if you play relaxed or if your hands, arm shoulder is strained/locked (personally I have a tendency to do this while playing fast). For example if you tighten your hand real hard this will actually go all the way up the arm and can cause back problems and or other issues.

    Good luck!
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    IMO it's best to use the strap both when sitting and standing.

    Also, when sitting, try to avoid sitting on the side of a bed or on a couch etc, as this can cause the body to slump.

    A chair, preferable with a back, is best.
  7. bolophonic

    bolophonic SUSPENDED

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Definitely keep your shoulders relaxed. I have never found it comfortable to play while sitting down... perhaps standing might provide you with a more ergonomic posture?
  8. JoZac21


    Nov 30, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Please consult a doctor.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Have a good veteran teacher evaluate your playing position.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Any player can develop the habit of "shoulders up" into their playing.

    All this means is you are lifting your shoulders. This can happen with ease to any player if they are not aware of the signs that they are doing it. Normally they are tension and a 'warm tired' ache in the shoulder are we call the rotor cuff.

    To feel what a relaxed shoulder down position is do this.
    It is called neck shrugs and as it sounds you just life both shoulders as if you are shrugging them. But what I want you to do is exaggerate this movement...really lift them so you neck goes deep on to them, then drop the shoulders pulling them back and pushing them down as far as you can go....the natural rotation will will bring them forward again to a neutral position when you relax.
    Repeat this at a moderate pace about 10 times, then on the last one when you push down just relax and fell that position.
    This is the normal playing position, your shoulders should never lift when you play. Do it in front of a mirror, use it as a warm up and warm down, so before and after playing. Use it when ever your neck or shoulders feel tired.

    As a new players you will use your neck to look over the bass at your hands, so you lift your shoulders to do so, because you need a visual reference of what you are doing. The problem starts because you look and play at the same time, so your shoulders do not go back to being relaxed.
    Common problem if you read music as well, you push your head forward to read and play, rather than remember to bring the stand closer so you can stay relaxed and play. But sometimes this is not always possible because of space, so the habit can develop.
    If you stand and play it is easy to favour one side, so again make sure you weight is even, your hips level and your spine relaxed and straight...even when sitting.

    Remember the shoulders do not hold up any arm soley, it is a combined use of the upper body muscles that give you the correct relaxed posture.
    That posture for the want of a better word is down.
    If your shoulders are down they are relaxed...you have to introduce muscular tension to lift them.
    It is this unused tension that will create problems because it is extra tension that is not needed so it is sustained tension. Because your focus is in playing it is not always noticeable during playing, but usually afterwards when you try and relax them and they do not.
    The shoulder shrugs will remind you of what keeping them down and relaxed is about.

    Here is a link to some basic hand exercises, I am shooting some new videos later this month and one of them will deal with posture and will have the routine I use everyday for my warm up/down. It is a combination of stretches and muscle glides that I use in an easy couple of minutes routine, but here is the hand and arm part.

  11. kolai


    Jul 21, 2011
    wow thanks again for the replies....

    Fergie: that was awesome , thanks !!

    Re seeing a Dr...... As soon as I get the feeling I am currently experiencing I know straight away what it is. Although in saying that I haven't experienced it in the past few months, I think that was an indication everything had finally settled down.

    I imagine this will take 2-3 weeks to pass (better than the 1 and a bit years it took last time). So for the meantime I imagine it'll be NSAIDs to help with the inflammation.

    Not quite the start I wanted to my bass playing journey GRRRR!!!!
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Make sure you explain to your MD how you play bass, he will give you relevant info to minimise its effects on your body.
    Bass playing may not be the direct cause of your problem, but the physical action of playing a bass maybe aggravating and highlighting your existing problems.

    The old joke of " Doctor it hurts when I so this" and the reply of " well don't do that then" has a certain element of truth in it..LOL

    Just give any injury a chance to heal fully, rather than keep "dragging it out" by playing as it heals.
    Sometimes it can be better and quicker to stop playing completely for a few months than carry an 'improving injury' for a year if the situation allows it. This situation gives you 10 more months of playing at a full capasicty rather than a year with a reduced capacity....and without the chance of aggravating the injury, or have it develop a problem somewhere else.

    I stopped playing for 6 months completely, 4 years ago due to a broken neck. I never once picked the bass up once in that period to allows my neck to heal. Even after that I changed my bass and rig to allow me to work my playing back to a standard to allow me to gig. Even now 4years on I still working on it, as I will for the rest of my life, as my injuries the rough nerve damage to my upper body are permanent.
    But all this means is I choose what is right for my situation now, not the situation I used to have. My basses and rig would never have been my choice before the accident, but are no ideal for what I need now.

    So it is always possible to keep playing without an injury interfering, of you are willing to accept that this is what needs to be done and commit to your new situation, rather than being down about it.
    The thought process of accepting the new challenge is far more beneficial than trying to hold to any old ideas you hold about your playing. In the end it is about the music you play and create, rather than the tools you use to do it.:)
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards

    That is the only advice you should be following.
  14. MicceO


    Aug 12, 2004
    Hi Kolai,

    I've seen many Havic5 videos, and I think he's a great teacher! I've also seen the video you refer to, and at this point, I must say I don't agree with him. I would say, keep your right elbow low and your shoulder relaxed. If you look at bass videos in you tube, you see that nearly all players have their elbow low. In this way, your wrist is a bit bent but that should be no major problem.
  15. kolai


    Jul 21, 2011
    Yeah I'm not picking it up again until I feel better.

    Thanks for those that recommend seeing a Doc, I know what the issue is and have a number of exercises to strengthen the region (been through this all before, not bass related though).

    Just touching on what MicceO said....so it's okay to have a slight bend in the wrist ? I had been so paranoid and going for the total straight wrist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsDbh0buYHE Just watched this and noted he had a slight bend in the right.

    thanks again everyone for your useful input
  16. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Of course it is. Bending the wrist is a position of weakness and vurnibility. In playing the ideal position is straight, then if not as straight as can be......remember many outside influences can dictate that bend in the wrist, from design of instrument through to the height it is worn.

    How do you make someone drop something....bend the wrist. The more the wrist is bent the more power the hand has is reduced, really bend it and the fingers cannot close.....then really bend it on others and you can control them with pain, as do police and anyone with pressure point training.:)