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shoulder injury - how to keep on playing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 1stOfficerRiker, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. So I've torn my left rotator cuff and I can't extend my arm out from the side of my body more that 6 inches. Looks like it will be months before I'm back to normal. Right now I'm in excruciating pain when I move it or twist it wrong. I've tried playing and can only get close to a comfortable position is sitting with the body of my bass as far to the right as I can get it and still balance it.

    Anyone else been in this predicament? how did you cope?
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Sorry to hear about this. While it is frustrating and annoying not to be able to play for a while, IMO it's best to bite the bullet and wait it out. Trying to play too soon might exacerbate the problem, resulting in a longer absence than initially required. In the mean time perhaps you could work on something else that does not require the bass...like learning to read etc. The bass will still be there when you recover, and it should not take too long to get your chops back.

    Best of luck and a speedy recovery. :)
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Talk to your doctor about how and when to start playing again. Not strangers on the internet.
  4. LOL, anyone here know how to use a scalpel and have read A&P books? Just seeing what has worked for other people in my situation. Maybe someone can tell me going short scale for a little while or lighter string gauge helps, etc.
  5. Jebberz

    Jebberz Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Quebec city
    I had more or less the same problems. Physiotherapy for a few weeks, with exercises, and I spent a few years sporting my bass with a strap that puts the weight over both shoulders. Also, I found out that a peculiar bass I had had poor ergonomics that worsens the problem when I played it, so I got rid of it.
  6. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Shredded both of mine saving a 50 pound ACME B2 from going off a 6 foot stage and over my head. No pain when it happened. The next day, both arms were like rag doll arms and useless. Never got cut on to repair them.

    Took it somewhat easy but we were 1 to 2 gigs per week then.
    Nutrition helped speed up the slow process(amino fuel, vitamins, Carlson's lemon-flavored cod liver oil, l-glutamine, and some others), exercises VERY slowly and carefully, having bandmates help me with load in/out for about a month, etc.
    Hot baths/tubs/showers and very careful use of OTC pain meds help. Supplementing with milk thistle do help counteract and avoid the damage OTC pain meds can do to your liver. Been there, done that with a hip injury.
    Years later they still aren't 100% but no complaints at 6 decades and counting.

    If you do not already, try this now(a Billy Sheehan and others approved suggestion):
    Notice where your bass is when comfortable, practicing sitting and adjust your strap so your bass is in the same location when you are standing as it was when sitting.

    PS: If you think the cuff hurts, wait until you fall backwards off of an elevated deck onto rock-hard, dry Texas gumbo/dirt on your left shoulder. That "hurt" hung around for about 8 months.
  7. Jebberz

    Jebberz Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Quebec city
    You should also try to find The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health by Dr. Randall Kertz. It is an helpfull resource.
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Everyone is different. What works for one, might cause problems for another. I agree with lz4005...your doctor is the only person to give advice on how to recover.

    Looks like you want someone to tell you that it is OK to play in your condition. ;)

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I'm very sorry to hear that and do wish you a fast recovery.

    I am not a doctor, but I think you need to rest and do the exercises your doctor gave you until you're recovered. If you're in excruciating pain when you move or twist your arm wrong, you probably should not do that to prevent any further damage. That might delay the recovery as well.
    fearceol likes this.
  10. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I had rotator cuff surgery a few years ago (left shoulder) and had to lay off for about 3 weeks completely, if I recall. Then was able to play a little (seated) - focus on recovery, it will go quickly and you'll do better than ever once healed. Be patient, it takes along time.
  11. Neck surgery limited being able to play an "F" on the "E" string (nearly impossible to do that & turn my head). Discovered the joys of "Short Scale" basses... (currently a Epiphone Allen Woody)

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