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People with jobs that can be harmful to bass playing: How do you cope?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Blackbird, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I felt pretty lucky to get a job ten days after moving to Los Angeles, but now that I'm one month into it, I find this job is a carpal tunnel death trap.

    I sit at a computer for 8 hours (hence my increased presence on TB) and receive phone calls that require me to to a lot of typing. Additionally, I have to transfer calls, which requires the use of another keypad. It's an ok survival job, but it's taking a toll on my right arm and wrist, not to a crippling point yet, but I can see the cumulative effect could cause complications soon.

    I'll be moving my keypad to the left. as well as my mouse. I'm also paying attention to my posture and I'll be typing a lot less. I'm wondering if there are other TBers in a similar situation and would like to know what they do/did to mitigate or eliminate the problem. Thanks.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I'm torn between moving it to misc or technique, I guess it fits technique best.
  3. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    Some days I'm at the comp all day. I have one of those stress balls and I'd like to think that helps. In addition, I've used those steel Chinese health balls (sorry don't know the real name of em) for like 13yrs now, again I'd like to think they help me in some way.

    Health balls- No... they're not ment to touch, keep em separated (NO PUN!), clock wise and counter clock wise, both hands.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    glucosamine & chondritan (check spelling) really work miracles. you can do a search and learn about them on the web.

    i'd also do stretching and warming up before hitting the days work. i run a lot and started having severe ankle problems. stertching and warming them up put and end to the problems.

    i've also found that being overly concerned about pains tends to worsen the problem. when i'm focused on something that's annoying me, and constantly trying to stop it i think i bring more energy and attention to that area, tense it even more, and wind up in more trouble. i've gotten the start of wrist problems lots of times and i've always just said, nope. it ain't happening (kinda just denying it), and it's always gone away. my wrist actually hurts a little right now, but i wouldn't have even noticed if i didn't just check. i'm not sure if this last thing here is the best way to address a pain problem, but it works for me. the stuff before this much more sound advice.
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I definitely suggest stretching.

    Also, acupuncture.
  6. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I agree with Joe. I take glucosomine/chondroitin (sp?) daily and it helps. Not that I have ever had any serious pain, but I could tell the joints in my fingers were protesting a bit. Like Joe, I've also been lucky in being able to take minor steps (like stretching) that have completely eliminated any problems (at least for now).

    I consider myself very lucky because I too sit at a computer all day, on top of 3 hours of commuting - that's a lot of sitting! I have not had any major problems with repetitive motion injuries or back problems from my sedentary ways -- knock on wood! My worst injuries have come from lugging around two 4x10 cabs! My back sometimes protests when I disobey commonsense rules of lifting something that heavy (easy solution there -- use common sense!). I also banged my knuckles on a doorframe while carrying one of these cabs inside, and the good news is that it didn't affect my playing much. Bad news is that it's looking like the damage may be permanent. It doesn't hurt unless I contact the knuckle, but if I manage to irritate the knuckle it's very painful -- I may never be able to properly knock on a door again. I'm guessing I might have a little chip of bone floating loose in there.

    I really have sympathy for guys (and gals) who work with their hands in construction/maintenance/mechanic fields. Or even working in a kitchen. I would be sooooo paranoid about bunging up my hands.

  7. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Computer guy here too...

    Actually, aren't all jobs harmful to playing bass? I mean if you are working, you aren't playing bass right?

    Seriously, if you work on computers all day...definitely take a break from it every half hour. Get up, walk around for a bit and stretch.

    And yes, glucosamine is a huge benefit for your ligaments and cartilage. I take it because I've got bad knees and it has helped a lot.
  8. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I work in a picture framing shop, and get minor cuts all over my hands from glass, mat cutters, and razor blades. Recently I sliced my left pinky open pretty deep. It didn't quite put me out of commission, but it was difficult to play. The splint on my pinky also made it really hard to use my ring finger, so I had to make do with two fretting fingers. Django got along just fine, I thought, but I didn't do so well.

    I don't really cope at all; I just understand that it's a temporary limitation. It was probably good for me to stop overplaying anyway. ;)
  9. bound


    Dec 28, 2003
    Jersey, Baby!
    I'm a fitness trainer, and we run into a lot of carpal tunnel problems. I Kayak a lot, and that does a number on your wrists, though in a different spot than typing. One of the best things to do is wieghtlifting. Try doing wrist curls with a medium weight every third day or so, do 3-4 sets of eight reps. The lower reps with a heavier weight than you think will make your muscles and tendons much stronger, and able to handle more stress. when your body adapts to the new kind of stress (cmparitively heavy weight at lower speed and low reps, compared to typing which would be light weight, high reps, high speed) your overall wrist health will improve dramatically. Just getting your body to learn to adapt to new stresses will make it learn to adapt quicker. Stretching is important, also, but make sure you stretch AFTER you're warmed up, otherwise your risk of pulling a muscle is very high. I've heard nothing but good things about Glucosamine and Chondrotin, but have never used it myself.( BTW, Chondroitin is the precursor to Glucosamine, if anyone was wondering)
    Wal-mart carries a cool wrist exerciser made by gold's gym, it's about fifteen bucks, and works well. be sure to do wrist curls in both directions, so you don't unbalance your muscles on one side of your arm, though much of the carpal tunnel problems are caused by muscle imbalance in the first place.
    If you've already got bad carpal tunnel syndrome, check with your doc first.
    Lifting is also great for arthritis.
  10. `ash


    Feb 26, 2004
    Im a butcher and since ive been playing bass, it has put getting a cut in a new light. Dont get me wrong a major cut is still a serious concern, but now even something tiny, like a paper cut on a finger can be frustrating.
  11. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I agree with a lot (well, all) of the above, but I especially agree with the idea of the track ball. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but once you do, you will HATE mice!!!

    I absolutely swear by my track ball at work and I'd like to get one for home as well.
  12. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Hey, I just got one of those hand exercise things you were talking about. What do you mean about doing wrist curls in both directions? I want to add that to my lifting routine.
  13. See if your company has an ergonomics department. Most large ones do, and I think there are OSHA-type guidelines that mandate them for any company with more than X employees.

    A properly setup workstation can make a huge difference. The department can help you do that. I think repetitive stress injuries are the largest or second-largest category of work-related injury.
  14. Funny that you have mentioned this, coz for the past month I was quite worried, I am a programmer, so computers 8 hours a day too! And I think typing and playing guitars are the two activities that can mostly leads to Carpel Tunnel!

    Well, I would guess the only solution is to have good posture!

    Oh, yeah, about the chinese health balls, I have a pair (small rock based) in my house too! Here are some references:

    I have just started playing with it around 2 weeks ago. Found it hard to turn it clockwise at first, but after some practice, its fine, and turning the balls clockwise actually takes a lot of effort from the wrist!
  15. toytech


    Mar 22, 2004
    San Leandro
    I own an auto repair shop(solo operator) trying not to hit my fingers with large hammers helps, though I almost lost a couple in a fan a while back (27 stitches in two fingers) fortunatly(i think) I am just an amature who loves to play. I can relate to the cuts too, I never am without healing wounds of one kind or another. :rolleyes:
  16. bound


    Dec 28, 2003
    Jersey, Baby!
    Okay, wrist curls go like this:
    sit on a chair or bench with your forearm resting on your leg(right arm on right leg...you know.) Your forearm should be parallel to the floor. Your wrist should be jsut past the end of you knee, so that your hand is free to curl up and down. For normall curls, which work the muscles on the inner side of your forearm, your palm should be facing up. let the weight pull your hand slowly down towards your shin, then curl the weight up. Do the motion with control, don't jerk the weight around. For Reverse curls, the exercise is the same, except it's performed with the your palm facing the ground. If you want to really involve your grip strength, too, wrap a handtowel around the grip of the weight, to make it bigger around, that will make it harder to hold on to.
    If this isn't clear, PM me with your email, i'll send some pics.
  17. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I have tendon problems in my back from time to time. More often than not it's result of one of the following.

    The worst things you can do for your tendons is to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. It just deprives increases the stress on them by deprivng them of water and oxygen.

    Drink enough water (I've never met anyone who does and I'm as guilty as anyone).

    Get enough sleep.
    Breathe properly.

    Bassplayer did a really good article on tendonitis in Jan 03. If you can't find it let me know and I'll see if I can scan it.
  18. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    It's been suggested by some (certainly NOT proven) that the onset of CTS is possibly related to a deficiency of vitamin B6. Some docs agree, some don't; it is still controversial. Google it for the pro and con arguments if you're interested.

    But, considering that there really is no downside to making sure you're getting adequate B6 (assuming you're not allergic to pill coatings or anything of that nature), I'd stop by the drugstore and pick up a supplement. Not a "megadose"; a good daily multi-vite with a decent amount of B6 should do the trick.

    Just one of those "can't hurt; might help" ideas.
  19. I just want to put in that the glucosamine and chondroitin suggestion will help with joint pain but not the nerve pain associated with CTS. CTS is an inflammation of the lining of the sheath the tendon moves in. It isn't related to the loss of cartilage that the G & C supplement helps with. I use it daily for contolling pain from knee joint damage. That's what it's perfect for.

    Anti-inflammatory compounds like Aleve and Motrin are good treatments for the immediate pain. Ergonomic changes and immobilization of the wrist while performing the duty will help with the cause.
  20. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Thanks bound,

    Yes, that was very clear - great stuff. After I posted before, I got what you meant about both directions but I tried these standing up. The way you say to do it will be much better. I'll do it this way from now on.

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