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Do you play until it hurts?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kirbywrx, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I recently discovered the joys of a metronome, and was playing scales faster and faster. i got to the point where the muscles in my tendons hurt, and i can go fither, but it is very uncomfortable. Oh yeah, im talking about my left hand here.

    What im asking, is to get better, and faster (with the left hand) do you play through the pain, or do you take it slow and stready? Im trying to play through the pain, because i can do that with my right hand when i play hard.

    That last sentence made me sound like such a newbie :rolleyes:
    AnYwAY guys, can you help me with my little dilemma?
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Take it easy - sometimes you will hit a point at which it hurts, and that's a signal to take a break. It's good to work up to your limits, as this builds strength and helps you go further, but if you attempt to punch through the 'pain barrier' you could end up doing damage that hampers your ability to play anything at all.

    The aim is to gradually build up your speed and endurance so that any playing situation is well within your ability - but treat it like a marathon rather than a short sprint; pace yourself to go the distance.

  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    When it starts to hurt, stop playing. Relax.

    No pain no gain doesn't apply here.
    When it hurts, you're doing something wrong or you overdo it.
  4. This isn't weight lifting man. Take a break for 5-10 minutes to let your hand relax. Don't ever play when it hurts.
  5. Also alot of professionals will often talk about playing without pain all together. If practicing starts to get painful, take a look at what is going on and try to correct the problem, it is possible to just plain ol' play entirely without pain. And if you plan on taking your playing to a serious level you run a huge risk of things like tendonitis and carpul tunnel if you play with pain...And the pain just comes after a whole lot of whatever is causing it, so your actually doing a bad to your muscles and tendons even if they don't hurt sometimes, you just haven't started to feel it yet.

    One of the main things involved in achiving this goal of playing without pain, is not to use to much physical froce both with your plucking fingers and your fretting fingers and hand. It really isn't that hard when you think about it, just practice staying relaxed while you play and in time like everything else it will come to you.
  6. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    More than likely your hands are hurting from just practicing so much but you may want to take a close look at your technique. If you're playing 'flat handed' or trying to pivot further than your hand size will comfortably allow that can contribute to causing pain.


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    Hey kirbywrx,
    Wulf hit it right on the head. The number one reason for an overuse injury is "Too Much Too Fast." Pace yourself, and try not to inflame it (hand). The protocol would be
    1-it'll get inflamed and pissed off
    2- it'll splint up and get stiff
    3-it'll lay down calcium to reinforce the tendon (calcified tendon)
    This is where bone spurs form, and nodules on your wrist or finger joints. That grinds at the tendons and makes matters worse still. To reverse the process, you must reduce the inflammation, get it moving freely again with stretches and the like, build the strength back up, and then, and only then build endurance. Anything out of that order might cause matters to get worse. Don't keep playing in pain, that just aggravates the problem. Ice you hands after your gigs and practice session whether your in pain or not, it helps keep the inflammation down. But not till your numb. Shorter pain free practice sessions will build your hands faster than playing in pain. Plus your training your hands with pain to move in a way that is least painful, and that might not be the best technique for playing bass. Pain is a quick teacher. Zap yourself with a cattle prod every time you miss a note, you'll learn really fast.
    I am a Neuromuscular Therapist and I specilize in musician/sports overuse injuries.
  8. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong.

    Practicing certainly isn't exempt from that.
  9. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I dont do it purposely, but often get to the point where it does hurt.

    My advice is that you stop unless there is a reason not to.

    The only reasons I dont stop are that Im practicing or wriiting songs with my band, or performing. Otherwise, what harm can come from stopping?

    Pain is your body's way of saying something is wrong. I plan on seeing an athletic trainer or some kind of physical therapist (I know plenty I could see for free) about my hands and wrist if it doesnt stop.



    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    Excellent choice, see an specialist please. Good Luck
  11. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Well, there's a diffrence between feeling pain and just fatigue. If you are feeling actual pain then you should definately stop and take a break and try fix your problem ASAP and not continue until you can play comfortably again.

    If we're talking about feeling tired in the hand, you can probably just rest for a while and then go back.However, this could also be a symptom of bad technique and you should consult a teacher if you have one on this.....

    good luck,


    Nov 22, 2001
    Columbus ohio
    there is actually one song we play live that kills me to play,my left hand just wants to quit ,but i cant until the song is over theres a walking part in the bass line where i just play quarter notes to give myself a break,i have my endurance up there pretty good ,the song is gotta serve some body by dylan,we dont play this song very much ,i think from now on i should add this song to my practice routine,i will also take a look at the mechanics i am using when i play the line
  13. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    Didn't Flea play until he wore a hole in his thumb? He seems fine to me.


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    Maybe, but most of us want to play the rest of our lifes. Abuse your tools when you young, you will pay later. I make a living off folks who would agree. Theres a differance between a musician in their 20-30's and one who has played 30-40 years.
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I usually hurt until I play.
  16. I do it usually once or twice a month. I'm talking pretty bad. Usually I only play for an hour or two. Recently though, I played for four hours one evening, two the next morning, and another hour tacked on in the afternoon. After that the guitarist from one of my bands called, and I played for an hour and a half. I had a blister on my index, raw fingers, and weakened tendons in my left forearm. That night, when I tried to cut chicken at dinner time, I couldn't do it to well, my tendons just seemed shot.
    It's all better now though.:)
  17. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I unfortunatly do play until it hurts. At gigs, I tend to play a bit too hard and my hands cramp, but surprisingly it doesn't hurt too long lately... my hands are getting use to abuse.
  18. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I sometimes get blisters on my middle finger when I play gigs and haven't practised enough beforehand.
    Right now, my left thumb is sporting a nice new blister, which is the result of my recent attempts at double thumbing.

    I also tend to play with too much force when I can't hear myself properly on stage, which can be painful sometimes.

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