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Tendonitis/Older Players

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Rob Downie, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Rob Downie

    Rob Downie

    Jun 20, 2004
    Tualatin, OR
    I'd like to hear from DB players who are approaching, at, or past age 60 regarding experiences with tendonitis (or similar conditions) in the right shoulder. I recently played gigs (all pizz) on five consecutive nights and ended up with tendonitis and/or ligament strain in the right shoulder. Tendonitis is a real problem for a working musician as it can take weeks of rest (little or no playing) to heal. Are there any rules of thumb to avoid tendonitis, for example don't play more than, say, three days in a row? Is string tension a factor? (I am playing Eurosonic mediums.) Does RH pizz technique have anything to do with it? I normally pizz with first and second finger together. I look forward to hearing from all you guys of a certain age who have had to deal with this.


  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Ask Don-O -- he's been 60 at least twice!

  3. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, when you actually think about it in order to play the bass
    we are constantly raising out left arm and shoulder and lowering
    our right arm and shoulder in opposition to each other. I do Qui Gong to equalize the right and left sides (ballance them) and it seems to really help. I would guess that Yoga would help with this problem as well. If you are really hurting I would suggest finding
    an Accupuncturist. I had a encapsulated ligament in my left shoulder and my Osterpath fixed the problem. The trick is not
    to let it go on very long without some kind of treatment.


    PS When you Pizz do you place the second finger behind the first
    i.e the hook?
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, I ain't but jes about 50 BUT the thing that I been working on with my teacher is getting a relaxed, tension free physical approach. getting a big sound isn't about playing harder, it's about playing smarter.
    Have you talked with your teacher about this?
  5. Three years away from 60! I recently experienced a similar problem under right shoulder blade. I think it was from alot of consecutive gigs(up to four or five a week on DB), and surfing as much as I did when I was a teenager. Before I retired from my day job, just over a year ago, I was giging two, somtimes three nights a week and surfing on the weekends. So after I retired I went crazy,surfing everday it was good, took just about any gig offered, practiced three hours a day, did more physical labor around the house than I have done in years and it all caught with me. I mean from april to may I was living on 800 MG of ibruprofen three times a day, and it did touch it!

    I finally went to a PT for six treatments and learned proper stretching routines. It has helped alot, but also I have cutback on the gig schedule(not the surfing) and do the back exercises and give myself days off from playing and practicing the DB. It's 10:30 a.m. in California, mid- tide, waves are waist to chest high, no wind and the waves are glassy, got to go!
  6. 54 this end and YES, I'm starting to get some problems also... I had a Frid/Sat/Sun gig last week 4 hours each and by Monday my left hand , just at the base of the thumb really gave me curry! also under the right shoulder blade ( I sit when I Play ) however, have not gone for the pain killers at this point.... but it could be a future option! I suspect my hand problem to be the early days of Arthritis as it ran through my mother's side! plus the fact that I'm a tradesman in my everyday work and the hands, legs, back, ALL get a serious work out most days. So when you add the hobbie to the equation, I suppose we ask al lot of our bodies! :meh:
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well, when I was younger ( 54 in a few days) and gigged alot I played concerts that often had a famous Comedian. I learned alot about life back then. "Mind over Matter" !!

    "If you don't mind, it doesn't matter" !!....lol.. Right??

    Anyway, my pains come from playing in the Orchestra. It depends on the Stage, wether I sit or stand and what we are playing. First off, sitting on a wooden stool and looking up at the conductor hurts the back of my neck. So now I stand and fell better. My feet hurt after awhile but at least I don't have to carry a stool with my Bass...

    Then, when I played my first rehearsals in Orchestra (3 years ago) playing "Pines of Rome" I played the upper part (split) which was BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB for about an hour it seemed and my left hand was killing me. It was a Pizz part. The bottom bowed part was B_F_B_F for an hour. Less tiring ofcourse. When we actually did the concert without stopping 100 times for the Brass to get their parts right, it actually went kinda quick and with much less pain. So it was the repeitition that was killing me before.

    When we did Beethovens 5th and Shostakavich 12th together, my right hand hurt from all the heavy bowing. I was using my Morelli 7/8 with almost a 42 1/2" string length, a fingered C ext. and using Obligatos. So what was the problem, bowing pressure on the strings, size of the Bass, HEAVY bowing for 2 1/2 hours for 6 rehearsals plus warm ups and Practicing? I actually sheathed my Bow (in the Bow Quiver) during a rest and shook my right hand in the middle of the Beethoven and again after it ended. I played Principal and as usual I play a bit on the loud side to make up for the lack of Basses in the section as we were short 2 (only had 3 and needed at least 5).

    Then there is the pain in my fingers and hands from TYPING all this stuff......lol..... Time to go to work.. Bye...
  8. I second what Ed says about learning to play relaxed and tension- free. I think that's important whatever your age. Some of us here younger than me (I'm 52) have experienced injuries that have forced extended periods away from the bass. I recall reading somewhere that Christian McBride had to lay off for a period of months because of injury. I think in most cases it's from playing too hard while too tensed.

    I'm beginning to have problems with CTS on both sides- tingling and some loss of sensation from the shoulder or elbow down at times, and what I believe is the onset of arthritis- a sort of thickness or stiffening of the joints. It's nothing I can't play through yet. I make a conscious effort to take notice of my whole body shape when playing, to make sure that my back is straight (I usually sit to play, I have to be careful not to slump), and that I'm not clenching anywhere. It's easy to accumulate tension in the back, shoulders and neck if I don't make a conscious effort to relax everything.

    Bad habits are something you can change now. Age is something that affects everyone to some degree eventually.
    Getting older kinda sucks, but it beats the alternative.
  9. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    You should definitely see a doctor; I have arthritis and a stretched ligament in my left index finger knuckle that really caused problems (I'm 52). In fact, I quit the bass for a while, only to go back to it because I missed and, believe it or not, I found the smaller instruments like cello and violin to offer no relief. I also have tendonitis in my left shoulder (not related to playing the bass) and a bone spur. My hand specialist told me to keep playing if I want to and use ice and Motrin. The solution for the shoulder was to make sure that my arm (if extended out from my body) is not raised higher than parallel to the floor. I also moved to a smaller bass with lighter gauge strings (I'm using Helicore Orchestra light gauge, although I'm going to put a set of Permanents on them soon). Good luck,

  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    7 days to 51 and I've suffered with tendonitis for about 10 years. Typing all day and then playing all night is doing me in :(

    Anyway, stretching exercises help, ibuprofen helps. Ask your doctor about a physical therapy regimen to help control it.
  11. Just to go on from Ken's comments on "Mind Over Matter". Well what I have found over many years of RSI and other problems I've had with my Hand/ Arms Back and Legs is that I believe in "USE IT OR LOSE IT"and I have proven over many years to NOT accept the pain and work through it! Has worked for me so far.... I can remember 10 years ago not being able to close my hand around a Stanley Knife without letting out a scream however, over a 3 month period I just worked on it accepted the pain and in the end the pain gave in and I won. I'm NOT saying that the day will come when I won't need a supply of Pain Killers however, at this time I keep saying "Use It Or Lose It" Works so far :eyebrow:
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I meant it as a Joke! I heard it while playing in a Pit from the Comedian. Maybe it works in some way but how about this one;

    Patient: "Hey Doctor, It hurts when I go like 'This' (rotates arm in shoulder)"

    Doctor: "So don't go like 'This' (mimics his move).

    "Fifty Dollars Please"? (hand out)....lol