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Hand Cramps

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by iriegnome, Dec 5, 2005.


  1. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    OK. I'm 40 now. I am an agressive player. The kind of music I play takes alot of notes, sometimes. We play for 3-1/2 hours straight. No breaks and no stopping between songs. I am now having trouble with my hands. They are cramping and my thumbs are both locking up. I am getting worried because we are expected to do about 100 shows in 2006. Any advice? Suppliments to take??? This only started to come about within the last year. We have been playing progressively more and more each year. We also have been playing our sets like this for 3 years. :help: :help:
     
  2. FIrst, quit using the thumb on your fretting hand. it's just there to let you know where the neck is. I can't really point out any other problems with your technique, but I think you should look to get that as good as you can. Good technique will help you a lot. Also, aggressive doesn't mean heavy handed. Use enough force, but not to much. You don't have to fret hard, for example, even if you pluck hard.
     
  3. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Good points. What I do not understand is that my technique has not really changed (improved yes) in 17 years. I have used roughly the same technique since I stopped using picks. Trying a lighter "Touch" I know will help alot, but what about supplements? Does anyone take supplements for joint pain? Shark Cartilage and such?
     
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    1. You've already supplied the answers: You're getting older, you're not resting, you're playing hard. Can't do anything about the first, but 3-1/2 hours without stopping? I'd talk to the band about this and ask why. Breaks are as much for the audience as for the band, and they're a good thing.

    2. If your avatar is any indication, your right wrist is angled pretty sharply, which will cause fatigue and cramping. The straighter the line from elbow to fingertips, the less stress on your tendons and muscles.

    3. If you're unable or unwilling to take the above advice from myself and others, cramping in the hands is not much different from the cramping that happens to athletes. Proper hydration and electrolyte balance are important.
     
  5. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    1.The no breaks is a band choice. I love the idea that in our type of music (JAM) we play straight through. It is really for the people trippin. Keep the high going you know.
    2.How would I correct the right hand position? Lower my bass?
    3. I am overly willing to change. That is why I posted this - for advise. Proper electrolites, less Mountain Dew maybe?
     
  6. billbern

    billbern

    Sep 11, 2004
    Daytona Beach, Fl
    Endorsing: Inearz In-ear Monitors
    I'm real interested in this thread. Being 51 and recently taking up Double Bass, I'm having some trouble with forearm pain on electric. Keep us in the loop if you find any supplements, exercise or streching that's working for you. I've noticed that when switching basses (normally for different sound) it helps the forearm problem. Maybe if your set allows you time to switch to a different bass, it might help. Also, I've started using a "Tennis Elbow" brace when lifting gear, etc.
    Good luck
    Bill
     
  7. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    [​IMG]

    I don't think lowering the bass is a good idea, maybe it'd straighten your plucking hand, but cause your fretting hand to angle too much.

    I would try to raise your right elbow, so the angle between your wrist and your arm disappears. Maybe it's fatiguing (sp) at first, but a straight line between your wrist and your arm will make it easier to use considerable strength when plucking.

    Just a question; are you pressing down your bass with your righthand thumb? I did so (without realising it) on my previous bass.

    just my $0.02
     
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Couple things:

    1. - Relax! That' the biggest thing that will help, and your post gives me the impression that you play with a lot of tension. I could be wrong, but I bet you do - try a yoga class to learn techniques of relaxing while doing physical activity.

    2. Water - it's the fountain of youth and health. Replace the mountain dew with water and you'll have better blood flow to your muscles. Blood is the body's oil, it WILL help.

    3. If both of your thumbs are locking up, I'd bet tension, but you might also try switching to a 'floating thumb' technique. (Never worked for me, but do a search here - plenty of great, great players use this method.)

    Good luck!
     
  9. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Here's an idea to straighten out your wrist, and you may not like ti at first. Put your elbow out. Don't play with it really close to the body. If you must play with it close to the body, lowering could help, but it may adversly affect your fretting hand. Having your bass set up with really low action may also help, but you will need to lighten up on the finger attack, so as not to buzz. I usually turn my amp up a bit more and play like this, but it definitely takes more control.

    I had a problem like this when I worked maintenance (I used my hands a lot). It turned out to be tendonitis, which can turn into carpal tunnel syndrome if you are not careful. You may want to get wrist braces, and wear them at night. Sleeping on your hands does unbelievable amounts of strain to your wrists.
     
  10. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Okay. I know that when I go to hear a band, I appreciate the breaks. My ears and brain can not maintain interest otherwise.

    Again, as your avatar suggests, you are resting your right arm on the bass and bending your wrist sharply. Resting your arm on the bass constricts your blood flow and your tendon channels, which can result in pain and cramping. Sharp bending of the wrist when working is also harmful. As others have said, raise your right elbow and/or lower the bass a little - but don't lower it so much that your left hand suffers! Perhaps playing with the body lower and neck higher will help. When I play, my right forearm does not TOUCH the bass. This not only gives me a comfortable angle but allows my hand to float around the strings for different sounds and dynamics.
    Yeah, ease up on the soda pop. Water or some kind of sports drink which provides minerals in good balance. If you play for 3-1/2 hours straight, it's like running a race. [he preaches, ignoring his own predilection for pineapple rum]
     
  11. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    A ton of great suggestions. I will try the wrist thing tonight at practice. I just wonder if this has been happening over the last few years and just now making itself known?
     
  12. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Relax is a great concept. I tend to be a little high strung before a show. But something to work on. The Yoga suggestions is pretty good. I will try cutting the MD down to 4 cans a show instead of 8. I will try this Friday with the water or some Gator Aide or something. I have tried the Floating Thumb thing. I just could not get the hang of it. Slowed me down alot.
     
  13. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Everyone has great suggestions. I am going to try alot of them tonight at practice and move some of them into the shows this weekend.
     
  14. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Would anyone have any ideas as far as vitamins or supplements for Joint Maintanence? I know glucosemine is for that, but I was on it for my knees and it did not help. Also, I have heard that B Complex helps. Anyone have any other suggestions?
     
  15. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Just a good multivitamin, and keep hydrated.
     
  16. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    You know, sitting here at my desk, I can immitate how I play. There is a marked difference in my wrist position with my elbow out. I have not noticed myself doing that elbow in thing.
     
  17. fenderx55

    fenderx55

    Jan 15, 2005
    NYC/Queens
    REALLY? :(
     
  18. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Well 4 hours of practice tonight. I really concentrated on keeping my elbow out from my side more and it did make a difference. My wrist is still sore a little, but not as bad. No caffine tonight either. I think that will take a while to empty out of my system. I have 2 shows this weekend. I will definately see how my physical stance changes as I concentrate more on the music than on my elbow out :p
     
  19. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    No caffeine?! Caffeine is my friend, but mine always comes from coffee.

    Glad to hear things are improving!
     
  20. its not the caffeen, its the suger that you have to be carful of.

    lowsound