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How to counteract a bassists elbow?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by ctrlzjones, Feb 19, 2018.


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  1. ctrlzjones

    ctrlzjones

    Jul 11, 2013
    Reading about this brought the understanding that this one is more in parallel with the golfers than with the tennis players ...

    It's a sharp pain on top of the little bone on the inner side (that with a hanging arm touches the body) of the left elbow. It's activated by pressing this spot or moving that left hand towards the left shoulder, closing the armpit.

    I think it started some month ago when I was working out the thumb position much more than usual (20/30 minutes of a 2 hours session) ... mainly switching a lot and fast between first positions and thumb.

    To fight it I pedantically expanded the routine for stretching for the wrists an fingers I got from martial arts (at least that's what I think) like palms up/down and turning inside/outside , the goodye winker, shoulder stretches etc. and it got something better within two weeks but does not go away completely. It is not really hurtful, does not keep me from playing at all (it even does not hurt at all while I play).

    I' say i have a pretty much relaxed left hand, doing the "hitchhiker posture" and prefer to have the bass standing upright on it's own, not inclined into the body.

    So are there any remedies, suggestions how to cure one of my weak spots?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    Bassbeater likes this.
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Massage helps me with this type of issue.
     
    HateyMcAmp and Bassbeater like this.
  3. Ice after long sessions
     
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Massage, yoga, ibuprofen, Alexander technique are all worth looking into.
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  5. Levin S

    Levin S

    Apr 21, 2007
    Charlotte N.C.
    Man - this is way familiar!

    I have a very good friend that is a licensed massage therapist and also a strength and conditioning guru. He plays music to boot, and is very practical in his approach to individual solutions for folks. He pointed out that (other than poor playing techniques lol) my pain may be aggravated by the office chair I sit in - particularly the shape of the armrests.

    I swapped chairs the next day, and have seen tremendous improvement in my intermittent elbow pain. My technique on the other hand....
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  6. saabfender

    saabfender

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    Different strap or at least different strap position. Alway practice strapped up. Stand up once in a while to practice.

    When I overpractice and get tendinitis in my lower forearm, those things are a big help. NBD was two weeks ago and you know I overdid it then.
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  7. rickwolff

    rickwolff CGJ Emeritus (Certified Gear Junkie) Retired???

    Who was it that was complaining that no one from the 'other side' visits us over here?
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I learned from a massage therapist who helped me with a torn biceps tendon (long story) that most of my current elbow aches and pains, when I have them, come from rolling over and sleeping on that elbow. Damned if she wasn't spot on!
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  9. Just blink twice when you tell a joke so we know when to give a supportive chuckle.
    :p
     
  10. Neck exercises help me when my left arm is getting troublesome.
     
  11. saabfender

    saabfender

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    My bad.

    There’s something mechanically wrong with the picture if you are ending up injured. I’d propose a variant of my BG-oriented answer. I think you’re expending too much effort controlling the movement of the instrument with the left arm. In an arm-wrestling match with a DB, it’ll snap your elbow every time: too much leverage.

    BTW, the fact it a DB thread is not as obvious on the phone as on the big screen.
     
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  12. rickwolff

    rickwolff CGJ Emeritus (Certified Gear Junkie) Retired???

    No problem. Stop by anytime. We need all the attention we can get
     
  13. Notices, backs out quietly...
     
    saabfender likes this.
  14. ctrlzjones

    ctrlzjones

    Jul 11, 2013
    Yes, I am aware about the difficulties to comment on this via distance ... But: is there a more specific advise for a certain type of massage that could be beneficial? I had a similar issue with the left forearm years ago and it went totally away when I started with the stretches (took some time though, a couple of months maybe).

    If the cause is really a bad technique (what I find hard to believe, everybody tells that it is well okay [big muscles, relaxed, gravity etc.]) then is there anything I should put my eyes on. I really do think that it started with focussing a lot of time with the change from the lower to thumb position ... (Except for trying to not to sleep on the left elbow. That would demand a kind of [un]consciousness that, for a lot of reasons, I also aim to acquire. But this is a long_term_side_project) Taking substances (pain killers) is totally out of the question, cannot be a solution ... natural highs only ...

    And also: How common are those problems in the world of us double bassists? I can imagine that there are a lot of victims, fallen for bad technique ... But those who do it properly, are they also troubled in a physical way? Is this something "per se" without any way around it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    IamGroot likes this.
  15. It's from pinching the neck I think. I get the same thing on BG. I do trigger point massage with my thumb around the inside of my elbow and myofascial (sp) by rolling a tennis ball on my forearms.
    You can put your right hand on your left arm and fret the instrument to try and find the overused muscle. Regular icing really does work. When mine acts up it takes about a month of tlc to go away completely.

    You can go get a local steroid injection from a Dr. which might help.

    I've also had ultrasound to break up fascia that helped.
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As you say, it is hard to advise from a distance. In my case, the big issue was a torn biceps tendon, which was not bass related. The muscle was covered in scar tissue, which a massage therapist who works on a lot of musicians from my university worked out with a combination of ultrasound and deep tissue massage to break up the scar tissue. Warning: the deep tissue massage was very painful, but immediately after that I had full range of motion, so it was worth it.

    As far as technique, the things you mention are good. With elbow injuries, I focus on keeping the elbow "open" since I run into pain when it is too closed; I feel the energy can't flow from the bigger muscles very well when the arm is closed at the elbow.

    For the sleep thing, it was not too hard to train myself. As a back sleeper, the trick was to understand not to turn on that side in the middle of the night. Awareness of the issue when going to sleep did most of the work, but when I still found myself turning I wore a brace on the elbow that wouldn't let me full close it, and for some reason that kept me from laying on the arm. But of course everyone is different in their sleep habits.
     
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  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Check out "Trigger Point Therapy" by Clair Davies. This book has helped me a lot and I regularly use these techniques. Repetitive Stress Injuries are very common in many occupations. Athletes, typists and musicians are no exception. I've known many double bass players with these issues. Our bodies get tired, muscles and joints get overworked and we need rest (which we don't always get) to recover.

    Other therapies that have helped me are acupuncture, stretching, yoga, heat and cold.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  18. HauntedDave

    HauntedDave

    Mar 7, 2016
    Houston, TX
    Wrist bands at the point where the pain is. I'll swear by it.
     
  19. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I used wrist bands while playing for a while and they helped support my aching wrists. The heat under the bands seemed to help too, especially in winter.
     
  20. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Sounds similar to "tennis elbow" which is often treated with a compression strap that wraps around the wide area of the forearm. By placing pressure on the muscles/tendons below the elbow, it changes how much they pull at the elbow.

    You need a doctor or therapist to explain where and how to use it.
     
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