Arm Falls Asleep

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by vince a, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. vince a

    vince a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    Been practicing everyday for a big gig coming up this weekend. I noticed that my right arm (picking hand/arm) gets a "pins and needles" feeling on the inside of the arm right where it bends at the elbow. It's kinda like it's falling asleep. Anyone else have this happen?
  2. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    Possible cubital tunnel syndrome injury, be very careful. I'd rest it asap. Better to rest than to try to play through it and be sidelined for a couple months or more.
  3. I find that if I have my bass a bit too high, my right arm does the same. Try dropping your height a notch or two on your strap to see if that resolves the problem.

    I don't wear my bass low by any stretch of the imagination; I drop it just enough to ensure that any numbness never happens, even after practicing a few hours. Works for me anyway.

    EDIT: Too much of a bend at my elbow is what gets me. Lowering the bass slightly reduces the angle and allows my right arm to work properly.
  4. This happens to me when I play acoustic a lot and I found its when the body of the instrument cuts off the circulation of blood to your hand so if you stop resting your arm on the bass it could help/adjust the angle of resting
  5. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    I did exactly this.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i'm no orthopedic expert here but maybe swinging the elbow up and out a bit for fingerstyle? the idea being to not fold the wrist like you would if you rested the arm on the top edge of the bass.

    i guess you see this more with guys who wear it lower, like chris W from muse or rob deleo from STP.
  7. vince a

    vince a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    Before practice today, I significantly lengthened my bass' strap, in turn lowering my bass . . . off of a very high position to more of the level of my stomach area. I had it way up because it was easier to see out of the corner of my eyes!

    During practice, I brought the neck up at more of angle (not as level as I usually play it), which lowered the tail of bass even more.

    Finally, I floated my forearm off of the body of the bass. This is difficult!

    One of those three helped, as my arm was no longer sleeping. Now I have to learn how to play it at that lowered position. Is different. Thanks everyone.
  8. Good to hear, Vince.

    Reducing the angle at the elbow is like unkinking a garden hose. It doesn't take much of a change to let the flow happen again.

    I learned to play without resting my forearm on the bass. Yes, at first it is tiring, but after a bit of time, it becomes 2nd nature - and you don't want to play the old way anymore.
  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    For nearly 33 years, I've been an "anchor near the end of the fingerboard and keep the right arm up and away from the bass" type of player. I can play for three hours this way with no fatigue whatsoever (well, no fatigue in my arm, but at nearly 50, my legs get tired!). Certainly starting with this technique when I was 16 has helped me, but the point is, it can be done.
  10. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    All of these are helping for exactly the same reason: They are allowing you to keep your wrist straight rather than "folder over," as walterw put it.

    To see why this is so important, try this: Hold your right arm straight out in front of you, with the wrist straight and fingers extended. Place the fingers of your left hand on the muscular area of your right forearm -- just beyond the elbow, on the area facing downward and toward your body. Now bend your right wrist. If you found the right spot with your left-hand fingers, you'll be able to feel the tremendous amount of tension in that muscle created by bending the wrist; unbend the wrist and you'll feel the tension subside.

    Needless to say, this constant tension created by playing with a severely bent wrist is not a good thing. Once you get used to playing with a straight wrist, you should find not only that the pain is gone, but that your right-hand fingering will greatly improve.

    BTW, I learned this rather by accident a number of years ago when I bought a Jack Casady Epi that has a very thick body and sharp edges. It was so uncomfortable to rest my forearm on the top edge of the body that I had no choice but to make the kinds of adjustments you made and hold my elbow away from my body. Only later did I discover how many instructors emphasize the importance of keeping the wrist straight to both avoid injury and improve right-hand technique....