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Hand and Arm Health / Exercises

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Sanctum, Mar 6, 2002.

  1. I had a rather uncomfortable thing happen last night during a gig. My left (fret) hand suddenly cramped up really bad, and I had a lot of pain in my forearm. This began about 1/2 way through the first of two songs that we run together, and by the middle of the second song i could barely move my fingers independently of each other. I was kind of freaking out, and after the songs ended I shook it loose and made it through the set.

    This has never happened before, so I'm hoping its a fluke pinched nerve or something. I was just wondering if anyone does any exercises beyond practicing to strengthen/loosen the arm and hand joints. I have one of those finger exercisers, but I'm not sure its a good thing.


  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    just good ol' stretching usually before the show helps. but you might wanna check out how low or how you are holding your bass. you might be pinching a nerve cause of a funkified way of holding up your bass. is it neck heavy?? usually that'll send you to the doctor quick as well...
  3. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I have encountered similar problems and none of my bandmates were very sympathetic to my pain. I would always hear something like, "Awwwww! Cam can't play that song next cuz his little hand hurts." I was always expected to fight through it.

    I have trouble playing the same thing over and over and over again (think of the verse bassline to "Sleep Now in the Fire" or "N.I.B."), so I would have the setlist made up so I got a little bit of a break between songs like the ones I mentioned ("Sleep" into "Louie Louie," for example).

    I can't comment any more than that. I have to face the fact that sometime in the next few years, I may require surgery to fix whatever the hell I've got going on. :(
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Always stretch first. That's so important.

    Here's some excellent advice given to me from Doc Mike Mulcahy:

    Run hot warm (as hot as you can stand) over your wrists before playing. This will help the blood flow through your wrists, increasing circulation and easing movement.
  5. I feel your pain, man. I know some of the hand problems I have I owe to a poor self-taught technique (that's a big reason I'm here, to try to fix that). Sometimes sucking it up and playing with pain isn't the answer. I hope it doesn't have to come down to surgery in your case.

    But the finger stretching suggestion was a good one. I suggest stretching them around the neck of your lead guitarist the next time he makes a comment to you.
  6. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I always have cold hands (even in the summer!). Must be circulation. And I'm always running my hands under warm water.

    It's so bad in the winter. Like, when I have a bass lesson, before I leave I will do some warm-up exercises (my hands get very stiff) and then I will wear gloves on my way there. I get to the lesson and my hands are still very cold. I sometimes have to do warm-up exercises all over again.

    DiN, it sounds like maybe you do have a pinched-nerve. Either that or something with a muscle.

    In any case, I hope everything is Ok. Do some stretching/warm-up exercises beforehand. If that pain continues, better get it checked out.

    Be well,
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    This may have been a "pinch" of "nervousness" instead of a pinced nerve. When you're nervous blood doesn't flow as well to the extremities, resulting in cold hands and cramping when attempting a repetitive activity. What was your state of mind when the gig began?
  8. mpapi


    Sep 9, 2001
    Hamilton, NJ
    I used to some pain during the first 5-6 songs of the night, but then everything would be fine.

    Hategear, it's funny you mention Sleep Now In the Fire. I used to have problems during that song also, even towards the end of the night. My forearm would get numb, especially during the middle part that is all bass for what seems like 200 measures!!!

    I've found that even stretching out before playing helps somewhat, but it's no substitute for actually practicing. I've also found that I'm usually kind of tense for the first few songs. Once I relax, the pain seems to go away. I don't know if it's me tensing up, or just getting the wrists and hands loose by playing.

    If it hurts for more than a few songs, you should probably try to find a playing technique thats less stressful on your wrists. Hope it works out for you.
  9. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Sounds to me like a bad case of the hand cramps - which CAN lead to a pinched nerve if you keep it up.

    I was playing through pain all the time at one point, and I DID pinch nerves. At its worst I could barely grip a pen, my hands were so numb.

    I am in total agreement with jazzbo - stretch your hands and fingers, and keep them warm.

    Also, I asked my doctor about this once, and he suggested weightlifting. Has anyone else heard of this helping hand pain? It doesn't make sense to me!

  10. Thats an interesting theory - I was a bit more nervous this gig than usual - dont know why really. Usually I'm only a bit nervous during the first song, then I get into it and suddenly the sets over. So maybe I transferred those nerves down my arm :) Ah the psychology of metal!

    anyhow the arm/hand feels great now, so I'm not too worried about it anymore. Thanks for all the tips everyone, they all make sense to me.

  11. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    ok - i have horrible wrists, and i'm just now learning how to make it better.

    part 1 - Muscle Strengthening

    excersize 1) take a full sheet of newspaper, hold it in one hand away from you body, and crumple it up using only the hand you're holding it with. try it - it hurts. both hands - 10 times a day.

    excersize 2) hold your hands away from your body, fingers together and pointing forwards, thumbs pointing up at the sky. as you breath in, move your wrists so your fingers are pointing as far up as they can, and as you exhale move them back down. 10 times a day.

    excersize 3) as you inhale put your hands (with fingers spread) over your chest and bring your arms and shoulders back so your shoulder blades are almost touching. then as you exhale, push your arms in front of you and form claws with your hands - and put lots of force into those claws! 10 times a day.

    after 30 days - you won't have any more wrist problems, and after a year, you can crush apples with your bare hands. :D

    Step 2) Pre-gig warm up

    1) shake out your hands, and stretch any other part of your body that needs it

    2) run your wrists under warm water

    3) don't smoke before a gig (i suppose that should be before #1)

    4) grab your fingers in one hand with your other hand, pull them under your hand as far as they can go, and over as far as they can go. repeat with other hand.

    5) stand over a table, put your hands palm down on the table and, while holding your arms straight, gradually move your hands further apart.

    6) clasp your hands behind your back and pull your hands as far over your head as you can

    that's what i do to help cope with my awful wrists, but they're getting alot better. ALSO i used to take a supplemet for rebuilding ligaments and tendons...but i forget what it was. worked very well, i'll try to find the name of it.

    that help?


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