Avoiding Arthritis, Tendonitis, etc.

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by MDEbass, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    Okay, so I did a couple forum searches on arthritis, tendonitis, etc. and found some stuff on dealing with it but can't find much on avoiding it. I'm in High School now and plan on playing DB professionally as an adult, so I practice about 5 hours a day. I don't want to practice any bad habits or anything to cause arthritis. I really don't want to screw anything up (especially while I'm young) to affect my future career. I have good technique, don't normally get pains or anything, but does anyone have advice on avoiding arthritis and tendonitis and stuff? Any stretches, warmups, excercises? Thanks
     
  2. That you stretch and warm up is more important than precisely what you do, but really... all bodies are different, the ONLY answer to this question is to find a teacher who is an expert in precisely this. That means either a bass teacher who has studied this stuff (not all have) or an Alexander or Feldenkrais teacher who is an expert in doing this for musicians in general, whatever the instrument in question.
     
  3. thedbassist

    thedbassist

    Sep 10, 2006
    You might want to look into the Feldenkrais method-it's a system that advocates body awareness and breathing-. Just go down to the bottom of an article and download them onto your itunes as a podcast. http://dynamicmusician.typepad.com/
    Also, you might want to look into yoga, many musicians are into this(including Ira Gold). There are some basic videos on youtube that show some good warmup exercises that are yoga related, for example:

    What type of stretches do you do?
     
  4. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    yeah i heard that podcast with Ira Gold when he mentions yoga. I actually just had a masterclass with him. Thanks for the links.

    To be honest I don't stretch much. Before I start practicing and every 10-15 minutes I'll relax a little and shake out my arms, hands, fingers, etc. I'm not really sure what stretches to do. What would you reccomend?
     
  5. thedbassist

    thedbassist

    Sep 10, 2006
    Personally, I usually do some windmills-an exercise where you roll your arms like a circle like swimmers do-, some of the shoulder exercises from that yoga video, and some wrist and finger stretches. For my wrist stretches I do overhand and underhand stretches, which you can check out here: http://www.ergocise.com/78.html . For the overhanded stretch, you just turn your hand up and lightly pull on the back of your hand. Then I do some finger pulls to make sure that my fingers are loose and flexible.

    I'd really recommend trying out the Feldenkrais method from that one site, it has improved my posture and my breathing while playing. Also, be careful to stop if you experience any pain and remember that the stretches should be gentle.

    Also, don't be afraid to experiment with other stretches to see what best works for your body(there are some other good stretches on the ergocise website).
     
  6. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    thanks a lot for the excercises. I just downloaded all those podcasts from that link and will listen to them soon.
     
  7. dreadheadbass

    dreadheadbass

    Dec 17, 2007
    england
    all you can really do is stretch and warm up before AND after you play also cod liver oil daily is a good addition to the diet

    truth of the matter is though you cant stop it eventualy age will catch up with you and you will develope tendonitus and arthritus as bass players its something we sign up for when we decide to take up the instrument
     
  8. thedbassist

    thedbassist

    Sep 10, 2006
    You shouldn't need to stop practicing every 10-15 minutes if you're properly warmed up. I would think that this unnecessarily wastes a lot of time. A past teacher of mine(who went to Curtis btw) told me that you're at your peak focus lasts for forty to fifty minutes. If you practice in intervals of forty to fifty minutes you will become very efficient at practicing. Between the intervals you could take like a five or ten minute break and you will become refreshed. Doing a Feldenkrais lesson between intervals is a good idea too btw.
     
  9. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    ooooo good idea. I'll remember to do that.

    I do practice in 45 minute intervals, i just take a few seconds every 15 min. or so to then to shake out my hands.

    thanks for all the advice guys
     
  10. if youre looking for some lit. Playing Less Hurt by Janet Horvath is quite an excellence little book to check out. It spells it all out in black and white with some cool pics and lots of other neat stuff
     
  11. Hemispheres85

    Hemispheres85

    Jun 15, 2006
    Based on recent experience with the physical effects of playing, don't be afraid to cut back your practicing time.

    Is is really necessary to practice 5 hours a day? If you focus hard you should be able to do the same work in less than half the time. 5 hours is a long time after all! (and if you're in high school It's even more shocking that you have time for so much practice) You have to put a limit on these things because the physical effects can be devastating. My first teacher playing 5-6 hours a day in college on a bass that wasn't set up very well and ended up pinching a nerve: even after years of physical therapy he's not as strong in his left arm as before the injury. One has to be careful not to over-do it!
     
  12. Zombbg4

    Zombbg4

    Jul 15, 2008
    Olympia,Wa
    If you are practicing 5 hours a day on the instrument thats a bit overkill. If you're not already, take about a 3rd of your practice time and set the bass down and just sing. Sing your parts, try and sight sing pieces, just general theory and ear training.
     
  13. bThumper38

    bThumper38 brian ebert

    i disagree, you can never get enough practice
     
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I would suggest that you begin to think about persuing a lifestyle that's conducive to health. Avoiding things like smoking, drinking, processed foods and drinks in addition to an overall fitness routine i.e. weight training and aerobics will add years of life to your body and reduce the likelihood of injury. These things don't matter that much for you now as a teenager but when you get to your late 30's you have to work a lot harder to maintain the same level of fitness. It's best to get into the habit of being healthy now so that it's easier to stay with later on.
     
  15. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Sure of different things, but you do reach the point of diminishing returns practicing the same thing for 5 hours.
     
  16. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    Thanks for all the advice guys.

    I understand your points that practicing 5 hours a day is not necessary, and your reasons for that point, but I do still believe that the time that I spend on the instrument is totally necessary in order to someday be a successful professional bassist. I have heard stories about "overpracticing" affecting your physical health and burning out too soon, and that is the reason why I started this thread - so that I can avoid this (or at least delay the physical conditions).

    Thanks again for all your input.
     
  17. You just contradicted yourself... too much practice is self-defeating.

    Not to say that you shouldn't spend 5 hours a day on music, there's certainly point in that. But you can't spend 5 hours a day in intense personal practice without injury, that's for sure. So spend a couple of hours of that reading about music, reading scores, listening to recordings, ear training, composing, whatever.

    There's also a mental limit to how much skill learning you can do in a day, and you don't need 5 hours of personal practice to load up with all your brain can take without sleeping. Of course, if you practice an hour or so, then take a nap, you can extend this a bit (and it's physically good too), but there is still a limit. You need your full sleep cycle to really set that skill learning in place, and there isn't any substitute.

    Overpractice comes in two forms: overdoing the physical limits of your body, and going past the amount of learning you can do, starting to lose the lessons of the first part of your practice sessions. That's a waste of effort.

    Now, 5 hours of orchestra rehearsals is another matter... that's a lot less intense than personal practice. No problem with that.

    Now, I was heading toward being a fulltime professional bassist till my career took a sharp left turn into physics... however, there's no question I could have done the professional orchestra thing, and I NEVER did more than about 90 minutes of practice in one session, and no more than two of those a day (usually only one). It simply isn't necessary, nor is it useful, to do more than that.
     
  18. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    good idea. maybe i'll take a couple hours out of that 5 hours of practice into "musical practice" like listening, ear training, reading scores, etc. that will help be a better musician, along with three or so hours of "physical practice" on the bass.

    thanks for the advice.
     
  19. Look to the older generations of your family for a history of arthritis. This can be a good indicator of your chances later in life. Over a long musical life of repetitive movements expect some wear and tear in muscles and joints. Probably worse, especially for knees, are impact activities like jogging on hard surfaces or old injuries (breakages, sprains, etc) coming back to visit you later in life.

    Tendonitis and muscular aches and pains are another issue, and can arise at any age.
    Prevention is not always easy and cure can need careful management, especially if you are having to continue playing.

    Yes, there are a series of stretches and exercises, not a lot of them, that are worth doing on a regular basis, and I am happy to fax some of them to you if you send me your fax number via a PM.

    Professor Earl Owen, a prominent hand specialist who takes a keen interest in musicians' health here in Australia, advocates buying a good pair of jogging shoes and striding out walking for an hour a day, to circulate blood through muscles properly before starting to play. Also in breaks, get out and walk. Another great activity is swimming, with no impact and plenty of stretching exercise.

    Understanding what constitutes good posture and good muscle use should be part of every student's tuition in an ideal world. Practising in front of a mirror is a good idea so long as it is not an obsession (obviously it helps constantly monitor your technique too). Especially, take care of your back if you are tall.

    We talk about warming up before getting down to some hard work. There was a recent site on this Orchestral Technique forum (Your Practice Routine, posted by "thedbass", 11-21-2008) asking for peoples' warm up routines. From memory few if any of the replies, including mine, mentioned stretches or exercises as part of their routines. A better description might have been "tuning in" mentally and physically. Earl Owen's idea is to have blood generally coursing through your whole body before "warming up".

    While I was trying to make the jump from Industrial Chemist to professional Orchestral Bass Player I was doing 30 hours practice a week on top of my 40 hours a week day job plus travel. If I knew then (nearly 45 years ago) what I do now I could have halved the practice time for twice the results.

    Now after many years of teaching I have distilled the process down to the acronym HEE, short for Hands Eyes and Ears. The eyes are trained to read music fluently, the hands are trained to produce musical sounds and the ears are trained to pre-hear, hear and evaluate the results. If your practice is very clear minded and focussed you can achieve a lot technically in shorter practice periods. There is much more to being a well-rounded musician, as people above have been saying.

    Good luck with your future.

    DP
     
  20. MDEbass

    MDEbass

    Dec 15, 2008
    Houston
    Thanks david...a lot of good advice. Before reading your post I didn't really realize how important warming up was (to be honest I really didn't do much of it) but can I see how much that can help avoid physical injury, etc. Thanks again