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Avoiding hand injuries...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by RAM, Jun 4, 2000.

  1. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    There are tons of articles written about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and frankly, I find it scary that so many people seem to be developing it! Since more and more of us bass guitarists spend a great deal of time typing at the computer, I think a discussion is warranted. I've got some thoughts I've found that work well, being as though I've been on a computer at work for 10 years and have been playing bass guitar for 17 years, clarinet for 4-1/2 years before that, and have had no injuries resulting from playing bass. I therefore feel everybody can benefit from this discussion, especially me, since I'm probably wearing down something...

    Anyway, what I do is two-fold...

    Right hand: I never bend my wrist more than 30 degrees while playing. I've found that the muscles, which extend well into the forearm and join near the elbow, are more efficient when not bent.

    Left hand: I keep the neck of the bass high enough so that I don't have to bend my left wrist more than 20-30 degrees, I keep my left thumb in the MIDDLE of the neck; rarely, if ever do I allow my thumb to cross the top of the fretboard. By keeping an inch or so between the "V" of my thumb/forefinger on the left hand and the bottom of the neck, my hands move more efficiently.

    Please chime in with your thoughts. We can ALL benefit!!!
  2. markj


    May 27, 2000
    unfortunately,ive gone one better than that RAM ,ive developed whats called CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME...basically trapped nerves in the elbow ....hence at the moment i spend so much time on this site and others ..but as you pointed out this compounds to the problem!!!!! no one quite knows why this has suddenly developed,i broke both arms when i was a kid pretty badly or it might be the playing but the only solution is surgery,moving the not so "funny bone" to the other side of the arm,im told its pretty standard but only 1 guy in the uk knows the procedure eek. ! the symptoms are dead hands if my elbows remain bent for too long..in whats now all fingers.you should try sleeping like your on a crucifice,not easy!daytime fine ,but only 2-3 hours sleep for last 12 months not so cool!!anyway still smile. as ive been told theres everychance of a full recovery..s**t happens!!!
  3. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    ugh..i have been suffering with problems in my hands for about 8 years, hence the reason i am not drumming anymore.

    i was tested for CTS back around 94/95 and tests were negative. but i still had pain, numbness, tingling etc etc in my hands, my right one mainly.

    then i saw a chiropractor about it. AMAZING! felt like a weight was lifted off of my hands. still had some discomfort but it helped quite a bit.

    i stopped going due to sveral things that i will not go into at this time.

    now that i have been doing alot of computer work over the past 3-4 years, my right hand just hurts all the time...no relief unless i don;t touch the machine for a whole day.

    i am about to go get tested again for cts and if they offer surgery, i am gonna take it. i also have a ganglion cyst on my right wrist that needs to go.


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  4. ~Loxley~

    ~Loxley~ Guest

    Apr 9, 2000
    My hands start feling wierd when I'm NOT playin'... biggrin.
  5. RickenbackeR


    Mar 28, 2000
    This conversation gives me the creeps!
    It gets really scary.. i've been typing and playing for some time too, and no prob so far.. but the fear remains!

    I try to play as relaxed as i can.. and if i still get the tunnel syndrome because off playing, at least it will be worth it! smile.

    RIC- biggrin. -SOUND
  6. SEVEN


    Mar 25, 2000
    also if you use a computer a lot, try using a trackball instead of a mouse.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i keep my plucking hand almost straight, no lateral movement in the wrist at all. when i am slapping, it is more a function of the forearm than the wrist, where the arm pivots on an axis that would be approx. in line with my index finger if it is extended - the arm wiggles CW and CCW, but the wrist stays straight.

    i keep my headstock pretty high too - my bass is at about a 45-60 degree angle when i am playing, so that my fretting hand wrist is fairly straight too - definitely no side-to-side bending, and only a little if any front to back wrist bending. when i need to wrap around the neck, i move my elbow forward, and bring my hand upwards towards the lower strings.

    when i used to give lessons on 4 string, i told all my students to keep their thumb aligned with the center of the back of the neck, but i have had to adjust that with the wider 7 and 8 string necks that i play now. now i move my thumb towards the high-string side of the neck when i need to reach the lower strings, as well as when i am playing the highest strings.


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  8. MtnGoat


    May 7, 2000
    From everything I've read, using a mouse at the computer is extremely dangerous for the wrist and forearm. Avoid the mouse whenever possible.
    Some of the things I do in effort to prevent repetitive motion injury are 1)warm up my hands and forearm muscles by rubbing them together prior to playing. 2)warm up by slowly playing some scales, arpeggios, etc prior to ripping into it. 3)Stretch before and after the gig--try keeping all fingers extended except for one and bend that one as far towards your palm as possible(this was actually recommended to me by somebody that has CTS). 4) avoid caffeine--it restricts blood flow to the outer extremities(hands) 5)stay loose.

  9. markj


    May 27, 2000
    something i read on a classical site...they had a board devoted to injuries..is to drink a pint of water before you start to practice...apparently this stops obviously dehydration ..but not only to we visually dehydrate on the outside but our muscles do on the inside....or maybe it was to induce a bathroom break so to rest the hands biggrin.
    cheers markj smile.
  10. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>4) avoid caffeine--it restricts blood flow to the outer extremities(hands)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I know that this is a severe problem of mine. I drink Mountain Dew like it's going out of style.


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  11. markj


    May 27, 2000

    [This message has been edited by markj (edited June 06, 2000).]
  12. markj


    May 27, 2000

    "caffine/coffee restricts bloodflow to the extremities"...i know(instantly!!) what extremity id worry about and it wouldnt be my hands!!! biggrin.

    [This message has been edited by markj (edited June 06, 2000).]
  13. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    This is something I'm constantly concerned about, and after reading some posts, I'm now just plain ol' scared for some people. I do not have this problem, and hopefully never will. I try very hard to keep my wrists straight when playing bass or typing at the keyboard. It allows the muscles to be used more efficiently. Please, KEEP THIS IN MIND!!!

    Also, the comments about the water are true! The reason is because it helps to flush out all the toxins in the muscle fibers, which can cause friction. Friction wears away at the tendons.

    Another point about drinking water is that it helps to keep the body temperature regulated and joints lubricated.

    Caffeine is very bad (although I love a good Starbucks...) I'd recommend not using caffeine within about 3 hours of playing.
  14. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    So does that mean that my 4 rum and cokes before the 1st set is a bad thing?

    Chris A.
  15. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    Yeh Chris, you should probably leave out the coke. biggrin.

  16. I just got over a mild case of tendonitis and a ganglion cyst. I originally hurt my left hand while I was bench pressing a couple years ago. The pain went away, but whenever I played my bass hard, it would come back. My left hand's range of motion would become limited due to pain. It got so bad that I decided to go to the doctor. I was told that I had a mild case of tendonitis and a ganglion cyst. The cyst I had was a small round lump on my hand where my hand and wrist meet. A simple "surgery" cured me though. The doctor injected corticone directly into my cyst. I wore a wrist brace for a couple of weeks and took really strong Ibuprofen. Since then my wrist is fine. If anybody feels any kind of discomfort, I encourage you to seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms arise. You just don't want to mess with that. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to everyone who has to put down their instrument due to an injury.
  17. wynnguitars


    Jun 20, 2001
    A friend of mine who played on country artist Chad Brock's first tour told me that he used to have to soak his arm in a tub with HOT water before he went on stage.I believe if I'm not mistaken Dave Larue suffers from this problem and if you listen to him you'll see why.I don't think these muscles were meant to take this kind of abuse but,I believe that being healthy and in descent shape has some benifits and keep those wrists farely straight.
  18. For anyone interested in a horror story, check out pianist Jimmy Amadie's website at
    www.jazzcorner.com Click on musician's websites and find him listed with pianists.
  19. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    It's cool that he "made it through" though!
  20. purple_haze


    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    going? :D

    But anyway as a general rule, I figure if it doesn't hurt, then it can't be doing much damage, right?

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