1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Any bassists with tendonitus?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lewis7789, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. Lewis7789


    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    Excuse the spelling, I think that's right...?

    As you can see from my avatar, I play my bass pretty high up on my chest with my guitar strap as high as it will go. I play finger style and slap. After an hour or so at practice, my wrists start to hurt, so I stretch them between songs. But I was wondering if anyone has any stretching excersises they could recommend?

    I've been playing for 10 years, but it just recently started to hurt this much. Would those finger excersising squeezy tools help in this?

    Thanks in advance! (Damn keyboard, now my wrists are sore again...)
  2. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I've heard that's there's no real home remedy that helps this (I have had carpole tunnel and tendonitis in both wrists for a lil over two years now) beyond precaution to prevent it. A common thing is "reverse therapy", it may help the pain ease, but it honestly doesn't do a thing for the condition.
    Only thing I can tell ya is seek out a specialist, if it's bad enough they'll give you these pills that'll help (if it's tendonitis, dunno about anything else, they don't give me anything for my C.T.) and eventually you can get rid of tendonitis. But if you're like me it'll keep coming back, so they'll give you refills :p.

    Hope this helped :/

  3. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've got my tendonitis under control taking a simple, commonsense approach... reduce playing time as much as possible to let it heal, take regular courses of anti-inflammatories (Aleve, Advil) until symptoms are under control, stretch before playing, and forcing myself to play with a lighter touch by lowering the action on my bass (small hands on 35" scale basses, btw). Also, since my left arm symptoms are much like tennis elbow, I wear a forearm brace when loading equipment. All my symptoms are pretty much in check now... I think it's not too hard to beat if you are willing to *really* change your approach.

  4. I actually had to completely stop playing for about a week and a half and stop typing for about a month (typing is when it really bothered me). The main thing for me was posture - I'd always play hunched over, once I started paying attention to it and standing up straight the tendonitis went away.
  5. I would say stop playing for a while also.
    Another thing is to check the balance of your instruments to see whether or not they are neck heavy if so, I hate to say it but get something that feels great.

    However your bass is positioned when its just hanging on you without playing is how it should remain while playing. This will releive a lot of tension. Also a medium strap height is much better than having it way low or too high. Also I think it can be a way of God saying "slow down" or "relax". Do whatcha gotta do bro ;)
  6. my mom has fibromayalgia, which i've heard is hereditary, and my dad has chronic arthritis. and on top of all those great traits, i have an iron deficiency, which cause me to bruise VERY easily and for aches and pains in my bones to last longer. so needless to say, my hands aren't forgiving. i use tiger balm sometimes. it seems to help. i'm seventeen, but yet have the bones and joints of a senior citizen. quite sad really.
  7. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Seven or so years ago, I started having serious problems with my left wrist and minor problems with my right. I work with computers during the day so I would type for probably 10 hours straight, then go to practice and play the drums for a few hours or else go to a gig. I would end the day with a bit of bass playing. After a while this all took its toll and I started to seriously wonder if I needed surgery because it hurt so bad. I would get halfway through a gig and start having thoughts about stopping the show because I couldn't go on. I once played a show two days after getting my wisdom teeth pulled, if that tells you how serious this wrist pain was. :)

    My mom works at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and I was talking to her about surgery options when she asked that I talk to one of her coworkers before doing anything. This doctor specialized in repetitive stress injuries, which includes sports injuries I guess but also office related issues. I figured it couldn't hurt, so I packed up some sticks and a picture of my drumset and a keyboard and went in one afternoon.

    This doctor had me spend 20 or so minutes doing some table top drumming, bass playing, and some typing so she could see what I was doing wrong. Then she spent another 20 or so minutes telling me all about how the wrists and hands work, with all the little bones and so on. I knew all that. What I didn't know was that when the wrists are extended to their max at the pivot point, the amount of blood which usually flows through and oxygenates the tissues in your hands is decreased. In some people doing some activities (for instance: person jockeying the remote control), this isn't a problem. But in some other people doing some other activities (for instance: playing 35" scale bass strung with .130s for three hours straight) there is more activity, which means more need for oxygen, which means more need for blood flow. Without that blood flow, you have buildups of lactic acid and (presumably) other nasties which over long periods of time cause problems with connective tissue/tendons/muscles/etc in your fingers and wrists.

    So after explaining the mechanics behind repetitive stress injuries, she pointed out a couple things about my playing and typing which were problems. The way I played the bass, my wrist was extended almost to the max of one axis and was slightly twisted, so the palm of my left hand was pointed directly at my chest and the back of my hand was close to perpendicular to my forearm. The way I played my ride cymbal, my wrist was extended almost to the max of another axis, so it looked like the torch hand of the Statue of Liberty. Not coincidentally, I play right handed guitar and drum with my ride on my left. This was wreaking a lot of havoc with that hand.

    Typing was another problem. She asked how I had my chair positioned and my keyboard and monitor. My response: "I don't know, does it matter?" Well, apparently it does. When you're as immersed in the computer as some people (like a lot of computer pros) get, you stop paying attention to your body's minor issues. So you start dealing with them unconsciously. One example she gave was if you get uncomfortable with your leg angle, you might lean on an elbow and bend a leg and sit like that for half an hour without even realizing it. Another was that if your keyboard height is weird, you might hunch your shoulders without even realizing it. As I typed that I realized that I have been hunching my shoulders for like 20 min now. Gah. Anyway, the idea is that you owe it to yourself to spend 10 or 15 minutes adjusting your computing environment so that you are as comfortable as possible.

    Back to the wrist thing: One of the most helpful things she did was to show me the natural "neutral" position of the elbows, wrists and fingers. To see it, stand up and let your arms hang limply at your sides. You'll see your elbows slightly bent, your fingers slightly curled (mine are about halfway), and your wrists turned slightly inward so the backs of your hands aren't quite parallel. This is the position that allows the most blood to flow into your hands and wrists. When you deviate from it for short amounts of time you aren't hurting yourself, but the body isn't designed to do things like keep your forearm and the back of your hand perpendicular. Eventually as you keep doing it for long lengths of time it causes problems. When you're actually doing things like moving your fingers and using them to put pressure on fat bass strings, the problems your wrist encounters are greater. In addition to the wrist tissues needing that oxygen, the fingers are now needing more oxygen than they would if you were just sitting around yelling at the roadies to be more careful with your Accugroove Bill Dickens cabs.

    After a while, these problems don't just go away anymore. I'm not sure what the average recovery time from a single instance of bad ergonomics is but if you're talking night after night of bad ergonomics which affect a certain area of the body, the acid buildup (and whatever else goes on that I could convincingly talk about if I were actually a doctor) start having cumulative effects which take longer to heal from. Think of it in terms of hearing damage, but applied to your hands. Luckily, hand damage more or less fixes itself if you catch it in time. (With your ears you're not so lucky. So wear earplugs too).

    Apparently stretching your hands and wrists out before a show is a good idea. Who knew? Not me, anyway. The exercises she told me about were mostly take-offs from the thing Mr Miyagi did in "The Karate Kid" when he was focusing his concentration: Put your palms together and push toward the ground. Put the backs of your hands together and push toward the sky. Don't hurt yourself, but make sure you're doing it for at least eight seconds per stretch.

    The result of all this was that instead of considering surgery and selling my drums and hanging up the computer career in favor of pool cleaning, I took a break from playing for a couple weeks. I also got an ergo keyboard and was careful to set a timer and get up from the computer every hour for five minutes and do some stretching. I also stopped worrying about my hands, which helped. It seemed like everything was going to be okay. And so it was. After my break I tore down my drums and started from scratch with the kit layout. I adjusted the strap on my bass. I stretched before gigs and a little bit between sets while people were tuning or whatever. I paid attention to how my wrists were angled when I was about to play a four hour show and made sure I wasn't hurting myself. The amount of power and articulation I was able to bring to bear increased noticably, both behind the kit and behind the bass. I could play longer without getting fatigued. It was great.

    Seven years later I'm still typing all day and playing all night. A lot of the time I wish I'd gone with the pool cleaning career instead, but that's another story.
  8. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I developed tendonitis in my plucking hand/wrist. I had to bite the bullet and stop playing for 2 weeks. I also had to start using the mouse and typing with my left hand only. I wore a wrist brace for about a week. I examined my playing and think I've solved the problem. I have my bass strap setup so that the bass is at the exact same position sitting and standing. When sitting I have the bass resting on my left leg in between both legs instead of just sitting on the right leg like I used to do. I found this relieved alot of the stress.
  9. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    I just started getting tendonitus in the right elbow 2 months
    ago. I double on DB & 5 string.

    And work in an bonded air freight warehouse loading or unloading boxes into big "cans" ( truck-sized containers - AAA's ALP's - for you air freight guys.) and later to be loaded on the aircraft (DC-8's or Airbus's).
    Use a forklift,tugs, pallet jacks, & of course my hands- lotsa lifting for 5 + hours a day and some data entry on the computer.
    All kinds of import ppwk: customs, FDA, USDA, F&W, etc. to
    deal with- nothing too hard most of the time.
    After work, and after dinner I used to practice 2 hrs a nite
    5 days a week- 4 days on DB and 1 day on EB.

    After developing a right sore elbow, my instructor got a book
    for me called: "Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and
    other repetitive strain injuries." by Sharon J. Butler from
    Amazon.com. cost about $14.00 + shipping.
    It shows various types of stretching exercises for different
    parts of the body: forearms, elbows, shoulders, etc.

    It saved his career as DB player and helped his right shoulder
    problem. It took him about a year to overcome.

    For me: it's helped (only been 2 months),using some of Butler's stretching excercises after each set for a couple of minutes and wearing a elbow band. and ice on the elbow for 15 min after the gig at home.
    ( I had same problem 10 years ago on the left elbow and used ice bags during the breaks- but it used to freak out the some of customers at the restaurant I worked at- so I go to my car and "Chill". It went away after a year.)

    This time: I take some Naproxen, ice on the elbow after work for a 15 min interval ( recommended by my chiropractor), and weekly visits to him.

    Along: with less practicing - and now reexaming my physical playing habits as the previous posts having mentioned.

    And: rephrasing my solos- (less is more?? more Miles like) on the EB & DB.
    I noticed that has helped a lot! Not so much the 16th & 32nd note hard staccato runs as in the past. ( The bassist is faster than the guitar or sax player attitude!!) nice for reserve/surprise chops but a no-no for now. :rollno:
  10. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I have some in my knees, not a problem untill lacrosse season starts up or unless I skateboard a lot in a period of time. I ice my knees every so often. I do have a tumor (not cancer) in my hand though. Doesn't affect my playing or anything but it's there.
  11. Lewis7789


    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    I've used all the techniques you guys have offered and my wrists are MUCH better now. Like Mr. Kong, I use my wrists a lot at work, twisting them, like a motorcycle throttle. I got a wrist brace I wear when I can, and I stretch a lot before and after shows and practices, using Mr. Msquared's technique. The guys in the band laugh when I'm warming up to "Paint the fence", but it works!

    I've also noticed I play very aggresively, especially for the style of music I play. I think because I was in a bands for years with tiny 35 watt practice amps, so I really dig into the bass to get as much sound as possible. But now that I have a nice amp, I can turn it up and play softer. Wich is hard to get used to, but really helps my wrists again.

    Thanks again guys for your help!
  12. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I have it in my knee. It's very mild, and doesn't effect my bass playing.. So.. yeah. :ninja:
  13. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Playing with lighter strings that are easier to fret - and playing with a softer touch - have helped relieve some wrist discomfort.
  14. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    I thought I was getting tendonitis in my right hand. My fingers were getting stiff when I played, but I ignored it. Then a couple weeks ago, in the middle of a gig, mid-song my fingers froze on my right hand. I mean they froze. I couldn't feel them, couldn't move them, nothing. My bandmates turned around with dirty looks like "whats going on, start playing." but I didn't care because I was so freaked out. I picked up my hand and looked at it, but there was nothing to see, and there was no pain, but I had no controll of my fingers.

    It turns that durning long nights of playing I was leaning my arm heavily on the top of my bass and cutting off my circulation. What a relief that it wasn't tendonitis. I've adjusted my strap a little, and my posture, problem solved!

  15. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I worked in forestry a few years ago. I was using a chainsaw up to 7 hrs a day, and developed a real bad case of carpal tunnel in both hands. I stopped using the chainsaw and it went away. Took about 6 months though.