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Helping with an injury

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Sam Dingle, May 4, 2015.

  1. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Hey guys. Need some advice here. I've been fighting injury in my forearms and wrists for a few months now. I'll play for a bit then have to take day or two off while my arms rest. Finally last night I hurt myself again and can't take it anymore. I've already got a doctor's appointment being scheduled for tomorrow and I'm hoping to begin physical therapy soon. This has stopped me from being able to play seriously for some time and I'd like any advice from people who may have had this issue before. I have been stretching ("pulling" my wrists forward and back) before and after playing, ice packs after playing, Advil and started working out about a month ago. The weights have helped a little bit but clearly not enough (before you ask I've had a professional check that I'm exercising correctly and have been doing it with friends who have been at it for a while). Are there any secrets that anyone on here has? I'm hoping/needing this to become less of a problem fast.
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    You've mentioned injury but what's the symptoms?

    If it's RSI related, this was a huge help for me: Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries: A Self-Care Program: Sharon J. Butler: 9781572240391: Amazon.com: Books
    It's not expensive but you should read it carefully as she talks about stretching your ligaments and not your muscles. You might be stretching in a way that only affects your muscles and everything else remains tight and injury prone.

    Recently a therapist friend of mine hipped me to the application of massage for myo-fascial release. Something that modalities like Rolfing focus on. I've done just barely enough massage that I'm to self-medicate but I would consider seeing a specialist in this area. I get similar benefit from the Sharon Butler book.

    Hopefully once you are successful with therapy I would take a look at stuff like Alexander Technique to make sure your problems don't come back.

    Let us know what the therapist says.
  3. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    The best I can describe it as it burning pain. After playing last night my forearms simply felt hot and tight. This didn't happen during playing which is the worst part. Now that I've had time to cool down (about 14 hours give or take) they feel as though I have a sunburn, and still feel slightly tight. I've been icing them every hour and a half or so which helps temporally.
  4. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    That sounds like infection to me. Do they hurt all day and night? Sad to read that bskts. I`ve been reading Eric Hochberg`s posts on the issue very carefully. You have been posting a lot on string forums, what`s your current setup? I`ve been trying to find a setup that is effortless to play, but has as much power as possible. Velvets, downtuned solos, gut.

    Besides the gear issues I exercise and stretch, a lot, or more like in tiny bits during the day.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yeah that sounds odd. How long are your practice sessions? Are you overdoing it? How long have you been playing? Along with maybe getting your setup checked out you may also consider that maybe your technique is not working for you? Is this an area that needs improvement? You simply won't last if you play with a lot of tension in your body.
  6. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    You see me posting in string forms because it's my addiction. After this doctors appointment I'm going into rehab. I've got spiro Reds with an oliv G at pretty low hight. I don't like the low hight but if that's what I have to do right now I'll do it. My urgency is that I've got a job in July at a jazz camp where I'll need to play about 5 hours a day with kids in combos, so I need to figure this out now. I'll need to pray something works. I've been analyzing my technique a bunch and had people look at it and everyone says it's great :sour:
  7. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Before I tried to do 4 hours a day with breaks hear and there, but now they are half an hour to 2 hours a day at most. Last night was 2 hours and I just crapped out. The big issue at least from my end is not feeling tension in my arms while playing. It's after I'm done
  8. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Any burning sensation is new to me esp if it's while your muscles should be recovering. Yeah I'd have it looked at ASAP.

    Make sure you're getting enough water. Advil helps with the pain but prob masks issues. Hopefully it's not something like tendonitus.
  9. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I wish you get the problem sorted out! However, I`m personally done with any steel string, or at least when they`re at their regular pitch. With softer strings I`m able to keep them at the optimal height for my playing and bass, not at the height where they don`t kill me. But of course this all is very personal and relational. Chris Fitzgerald uses a setup ( and has some serious technique ) that I propably couldn`t play a open G on without hurting myself.
  10. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Oh no Reiska. You're making me want to say screw it and order Velvet strings. I can see the classified add now "I um… feel a relapse coming on. I'd like to sell all my thomastiks for a set of Animas, or Garbos, or any singles..."
    Reiska likes this.
  11. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I'll always throw my opinion in on injury topics because I had to give up playing a few years ago and start over physically. The story is long, so I'll spare all the details. It involves disc herniations, RSI's related, tons of physical therapy, and not picking up an instrument for over six months. When I could finally play bass again, it was for about 15 minutes a day tops. Long road back to playing 3-4 hour gigs. Before you get to this point - SLOW THE F!@# DOWN and figure out what is going on with your body.

    1. Don't let people on the internet diagnose you. You are doing right by seeing a doctor.

    2. If it hurts, stop doing it for now. If practicing for an hour feels fine, then practice for an hour. If practicing for an hour and 1 minute starts to feel bad, then practice for an hour. Get it?

    3. I agree with everything diddy said. I had aggressive, sometimes painful PT. It paid off though. The book that I read for RSI's was
    Dr. Pascarelli's Complete Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury: What You Need to Know About RSI and Carpal Tunnel. I'm sure the book diddy mentioned is a similar read. If you have these issues, it's a good idea to get a book like this to keep around for reference in case of recurrence of problems. Sometimes we forget to stay the course once we are feeling better.

    4. There is nothing wrong with taking the occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen (aka advil, motrin). Anti-inflammatories do not "mask" pain, they reduce the inflammatory response to the injury which causes the swelling and pain. Pain medications mask pain by suppressing the nervous system response. You can do you're own research or ask the doc about the difference. As always, use as directed by your doc.

    5. Hydration is an important factor for me. Most books on RSI's will recommend getting adequate hydration.

    I wish you luck with the doctor, and hopefully a good course to recovery.
    drurb and bass81800 like this.
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    As Reiska mentioned, I've written a bit about my similar sounding problems here and various solutions that helped me, don't have a link to posts, but you can probably search if you want. One therapy that hasn't been mentioned above that helped me a lot is accupuncture. Also, "Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" by Clare Davies is great.

    As 7years said, stop playing when it doesn't feel right. Make the bass as easy to play as possible (strings, string height, little scoop in board) and play with relaxation in mind at all times. Make sure you have a bass that doesn't fight you making it harder on your body. Some basses play tighter than others. Good luck!
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Can't speak to your specific situation, so I won't try. But with my students, we spend a ton of time on keeping the lower (IMO, more fragile) parts of the arms loose and relaxed and drawing the power to pluck/stop the stings from the core, where the mechanism is much larger, much more durable, and which requires a much smaller percentage of its potential to achieve the desired result. This means minimizing the "clenching" motion of both hands, which is what causes forearm strain since all the motions of the fingers come from direct connection to the flexor apparatus (muscles and tendons that close the hand inward):


    and the extensor apparatus (muscles and tendons that open the hand):

    In my experience, these muscle groups and the tendons they serve are plenty strong to rely on to play guitar and even bass guitar (although I try to use core even there), but wholly inadequate to deliver the force needed to play double bass without risk of overuse and injury. I've lifted weights regularly for about 35 years now (for basic health, not anything too extreme), and learned early on that for me, any sort of gripping exercise impedes my ability to play any instrument rather than helping it. What actually helps, IME, is focusing on the core muscle groups and letting the ends of the chain remain loose and fluid to deliver the power from the core without sustaining damage. Michael Klinghoffer gives an excellent demonstration of the concept here especially in the first 2:30 or so:

    Hope some of this information might be helpful, and best of luck on your recovery and journey!

    ( @Reiska - Glad you think I'm a manly man, but seriously, my bass isn't all that bad. :D )
    Reiska, the_Ryan and Eric Hochberg like this.
  14. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    I had an elbow injury a couple of years ago that would not heal. It didn't help that I was unable to take time off playing.

    An orthopedist gave me a cortisone shot (which eliminated the pain the next day) and a regimen of stretching and light weight exercises to keep any further problems at bay.

    Don't despair.
  15. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I have no tips for recovery, but i find one thing that usually helps me avoid strain in my hand and wrist is to keep a good curve in the fingers of the left hand. You need to make sure the string is hitting the fingertip in the right place.

    Other than that, do take a break from playing, or play in much shorter durations while you heal up. 2 hours of playing is quite a bit for a sore wrist/forearm!
  16. mpf


    Jul 3, 2010
    Florida Panhandle
    I have been battling hand/arm/shoulder pain for the last 9 months or so, and have tried every treatment/exercise/device I came across. I am much better now, and although it is hard to pinpoint exactly what was most helpful, my guess is that it was a combination of: 1) as much rest as possible, 2) icing for acute pain, 3) taking natural anti-inflammatories (turmeric, omega 3, etc.), 4) laser therapy (which made the pain go away pretty much immediately and seemed to speed healing), and 5) rehab (I had lost a frightening amount of muscle tone from months of relative inactivity).
  17. The muscles leading into my right elbow were locked up. Pain no matter how I sat, stood, lay. I couldn't hold a pint and raise it up.

    Saw a doc and was recommended to see a myotherapist. The myotherapist in turn recommended electro-acupuncture. Between those two forms of therapy, I've recovered for the most part. Took 8 weeks of myotherapy and about 6 weeks more than that for the acupuncture (IIRC).

    Still flares up, so I try to be careful not to overdo it.

    Wishing you success in finding your path to recovery.
  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I'm from the other side of town, but would like to offer my $.02. I had a few injuries that seemed chronic and hopeless ( and were actually diagnosed as such), that I am now completely healed of. One was with the middle finger of my right hand, the other had nothing to do with my bass playing. What I've learned is this. Be VERY careful when putting yourself under a doctors care. Doctors, for the most part, are trained to treat our symptoms as opposed to the cause. They can be helpful in diagnosing things, but can also be quick to jump to conclusions that aren't always accurate. I could expand on this a lot from personal experience and experience of others, but want to keep it short. My advice would be to see what doc has to say, follow his/her advice if it doesn't involve medication, and then seek your own holistic solutions. I treat my body with great love and respect. I listen to it, as it seems you also do. Because of that and my refusal to worship MDs as though they were gods, I am healthier at the age of of 54 than I've ever been in my life.

    I'll add that I believe reiki played a big part in my healing, but I know that kind of thing doesn't sit well with a lot of people :). Which is understandable. If you're unfamiliar with however, I'd suggest researching it a bit.
  19. Mr Ralph

    Mr Ralph

    Jul 12, 2014
    Hinckley Ohio
    I might suggest some of the following treatments but I am not a therapist or physician. I did however at one time for a number of years train sport horses which are prone to soft tissue injuries and strains. I have used the treatments on human athletes with success.
    1) At your local tack or horse shop there is a topical rub called sore nomore. It is an arnica based rub and is great for soft tissue healing as long as the inury is not to deep. It can be wrapped over without skin irritation or used unwrapped. do not use it over open wounds. There is also a homoepathic version of arnica which can be taken internally as well as other soft tissue specific remedies.
    2) There are also herbal carriers which will carry the active ingredients in the sore nomore deeper into the tissue. These you need to be careful with but they are effective.
    3) Laser therapy and magnetic Pulsating therapy are very effective to speed healing. Ice after.
    4) Tens units or muscle stimulators are also very valuable to speed healing. The thinking is you place the pads so they slowly and mildly realign the tissue fibers. Use just enough current to gently manipulate the tissue that is painful. Do not use the tens or any pain relievers to mask the pain as you are not promoting healing and by playing through the pain you may be doing long term damage. Anti inflammatories can be used but ice is better. No heat. Ice multiple times.
    5) You mentioned weights instead use rubber stretch bands much friendlier to your soft tissue and joints.
    6) stretch multiple times per day.
    7) I too am a firm believer in reiki
    8) Soft tissue is not like bone it can take much longer to heal.

    Good luck I hope you are healed up soon.
  20. cpaterso

    cpaterso Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    I too am NOT a doctor or therapist. But arnica creams have helped me in the past. taking Advil (NSAID) makes sense. trying to stay relaxed, and breathe. There are homeopathic remedies which some people swear by = Arnica being one. rubber stretch bands, the light gauge, to slowly build up strength. and yes, Klinghoffer's suggestions (esp. if you are bowing.) But these problems seem to take a long time to heal. I was unable to play for a few weeks awhile ago, just because i overdid it one night (playing with a loud drummer!)

    take care, and I hope it gets better quickly.


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