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Is this normal?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Gregorski, Mar 27, 2020.


  1. Gregorski

    Gregorski

    Dec 23, 2019
    Muscle pain below left thumb. A little bit of background: I am a beginner, started playing bass about 3 months ago, but have been playing guitar (and banjo) for the past 20 years. The pain started several days ago following a quite extensive practice session (4 hours), but doesn't seem to go away even though I basically stopped playing (less than 30 min a day).
    cheers,
    Gregorski
     
  2. HG1180

    HG1180

    Aug 11, 2019
    Rehoboth Beach,DE
    I recall when I first started playing bass (about 5 years ago), I had a similar pain in my thumb from the extensive amount of hand movement that bass requires, more so than guitar, I would say that this is more than likely normal for most players (?) But I would give it a rest until it’s comfortable to play again.

    Cheers!
     
  3. HG1180

    HG1180

    Aug 11, 2019
    Rehoboth Beach,DE
    Oh and I left out, it could be due to the size difference in the neck of the bass compared to guitar or banjo and your hand having to compensate for playing and being more stretched out.
     
  4. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Stretch it, ice it, let pain be your guide. If it’s severe I would lay off for a couple days...it’s tendons and muscles you’re dealing with..the longer they stay flared-up and strained the longer they take to recover and the greater the risk of injury.
     
  5. DuckSoup

    DuckSoup

    Dec 20, 2017
    Colorado
    Is it a sore achey pain or more sharp? I actually had sharp pain as a beginner and it was from me putting too much pressure on the neck with my thumb, or basically squeezing the neck.

    I practiced for awhile with my thumb floating off the neck. This helped a ton. I also found out my action was way too high resulting in me squeezing more resulting in more pain.

    Try floating your thumb off the neck for a bit to see if it helps.
     
  6. Gregorski

    Gregorski

    Dec 23, 2019
    Thanks for the replies and suggestions. Well, it's definitely a muscle pain, no tendon or joint pain involved. It simply feels like a sore muscle, but I'm worried because it's not going away. Maybe I'll just put the bass away for a few days and see if it helps. I definitely do or did a lot of excessive squeezing with my thumb - I am trying to relax more, and I did lower the action on my bass.
    cheers,
    Gregorski
     
    GodPlayedBass likes this.
  7. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35

    Aug 7, 2018
    Ditto - laying off for a few days. Forty five minute sessions with a 15 minute rest and you are good for four hours, but, you need those 15 minute breaks.
     
    salcott, fearceol and Mushroo like this.
  8. No, this is not normal at all. Playing bass should not hurt!

    Two likely explanations: 1) You overdid it by practicing 4 hours (a very common cause of injury), or 2) Something is wrong with your technique, most likely the position of your thumb and/or you are squeezing too hard (death grip).

    If you post a photo or video of your left-hand technique, we can give you tips how to correctly play pain-free. It's not supposed to hurt--do not ignore this warning sign from your body!
     
  9. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I had the same problem and it was quite painful. Braces didn’t help at all. A doctor recommended the supplement P5P. I think my dose was a minimum of 60mg. It worked and saved me from an operation. Now that I don’t play much, the problem is gone. I might have some leftovers if you have problems getting some for yourself.
     
  10. Oddly

    Oddly

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'd guess it's a combination of practising for too long (4 hours continuous, if I assumed right that's what you did, is a bad idea)...and a technique issue in pressing the thumb too hard into the neck needlessly.

    Take a couple of days off, when you go back take it easy, and hopefully the problem will be gone. If it persists though, seek medical advice.
    Good luck!
     
    gebass6 likes this.
  11. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    Could be arthritis in your thumb(s). The area you describe is typically where this occurs. I've had this for several years and it can be very painful. Overuse exacerbates the problem. My suggestion is to rest it a few days, maybe take some ibuprofen (don't exceed dosage directions on the bottle) and, when you get back to practicing, limit your sessions to about 45 minutes and rest 15 - 30 minutes between sessions.

    This helps me....I hope you find it helpful too.

    Be safe and healthy.

    Koog
     
  12. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Is you bass set up nicely? With reasonably low action, it shouldn't take much force to fret a note. It should be easier than playing barre chords on an acoustic guitar.
     
    Mushroo likes this.
  13. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    Yes indeed...it could be all of these things. However, it is just as likely to be caused from playing a four hour practice session. Even seasoned players might suffer in such harsh conditions. As well as checking out good left hand technique (check out clips below), I would advise only playing for about forty five minutes max at any one time. Then take a rest. Your hands/fingers/wrists need time to adapt to the different demands placed on them by playing a new instrument. Take a break from playing until the pain is gone. When you return..take it in easy increments.




     
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    first check your technique … there is no shortage of youtube videos to teach you technique (and they are not all good)

    One of the things that helped me become a better bass player was working in a lumber yard at 16. My hands got sore, and then I had to play bass with sore hands so I powered thru it and I made my hands do what I wanted them to do. But if you have a real injury then treat the injury properly first.

    Also if I play for 4 hours my hands will be sore.

    Also I am dealing with arthritis and tendonitis … I follow the plant paradox diet and the bulletproof diet to eliminate inflammation trigger from my food.
     
    gebass6 likes this.
  15. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    What he said.

    What he said too.

    A lot of guys coming over from guitar try to play the bass the same way they play guitar. You can't do that: You have to make some adjustments to your technique due to the longer neck, greater distance between frets, and the greater thickness/tension of the strings. Watch those videos.
     
    Mushroo and fearceol like this.
  16. OogieWaWa

    OogieWaWa

    Mar 17, 2013
    Oak Harbor, OH
    For what it's worth, the muscles that extend and retract (squeeze) your fingers are all in your lower arm, for the most part. The ones that are actually in your hands are the side-to-side and fine motion muscles. So where exactly your pain is should help guide you to what the problem is. Or so Google Images says, anyway.

    "Doc, it hurts when I do this."
    "Well, then don't do that!"

    I can normally play for five or six hours and not have any pain, just stiffness afterwards, so pain would definitely not be normal for me.

    Also try doing some stretching before and after playing, take a break once in a while and shake your hands a bit to keep the blood flowing. Even between songs. And don't forget to breathe, that'll give you cramps if you don't.
     
    Greenstreet likes this.
  17. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Confucius say man who ride bike all day get sore arse!
     
    geesharp, Strung_Low, teh-slb and 3 others like this.
  18. Two things: technique and judgement. You haven’t been playing long enough to understand proper technique and staying at it for a four hour session is way overdoing it even if you were an intermediate player. You’ve got to take care of yourself if you want to play for years to come. Or even weeks to come. Voice of experience: I overworked my wrist for about four days in 1989 and it only took until 1996 to clear up.

    #1 If you feel pain while practicing or playing, STOP IMMEDIATELY! Put the instrument down for the rest of that day.
    #2 If you feel discomfort while practicing or playing, take a break. Put the bass down while you take a break! Noodling is something your hands do not need.

    Baseball pitchers ice their arms after a game. Follow their lead: right after a long practice session rest your hand on a cold pack for 10-15 minutes. Buy a small bag of frozen peas and use it as your cold pack. It’s cheap, reusable and conforms to your hand. I don’t claim to be any expert on this but having been there and having had medical advice from physicians, physical therapists, et al. for my own ailments I am passing along what I’ve learned.
     
    Cliff Colton likes this.
  19. MojoPenguin

    MojoPenguin

    Jul 11, 2014
    Europe Bro'
    Had something similar. Was told it was nerve related, it went away with that and tiger balm during the night for a few nights.
    e-pain-in-a-woman-hand-wrist-safety-in-a-bandage-from-stretch-colored-in-red-on-dark-blue-backgr.jpg
     
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Is this normal?
    pretty much. the best cats have had all kinds of aches and pains to get to a place where they have none. time + common sense + not giving up = success! but in the beginning: expect some transitory discomfort(s) as your body/brain try to figure out why you're not seeking 'stasis'. :D

    good luck with your pain! :thumbsup:
     

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