The wrist of my fretting hand in sitting position... ouch

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SuperDuck, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Ok, here's the deal. I do a lot of practicing sitting down, which means the bass in in my lap. In this position, my wrist on my fretting hand has to bend at an almost 90-degree angle to play. Today, after playing for about 10 minutes working on some Bach, when I stopped playing, my wrist felt really odd. It was kind of like a dull pain, and I'm assuming that it's muscle related because it feels warm, not on the skin, but the muscle just kind of feels like I put a little bit of that Icy-Hot stuff on it, or whatever you use. It's hard to describe. Not major, just a slight ache, and the general feeling that something's not right. Here's the lowdown:

    1.) I don't think it's carpal tunnel syndrome, because after reading up on that in mutiple threads (I used the "Search" option... ooo- strange and mysterious), and I don't seem to have shooting pains in my fingers or forearms, or any of the other symptoms. Also, it doesn't feel like a nerve of any kind is being pinched, or problems of that nature.

    2.) When I play standing up, my wrist is at a not greater than 45 degree angle, and there is no problem.

    3.) I have full mobility of my fingers, but my wrist is somewhat stiff, especially when I attempt to bring my hand out of the playing position.

    4.) It doesn't look swollen or discolored in any way. Just some dull pain and discomfort.

    5.) If I rotate my wrist, a slight popping noise can be heard every now and again, like when you crack your knuckles, but softer. This causes no pain.

    6.) EDIT: After typing this and a few other posts tonight, I realize that, yes, typing makes my wrist hurt.

    YES, I plan on seeing a doctor about it and some other hand related problems (that I highly doubt are related to this) if it gets worse or continues, but I was wondering if anyone has had a similar problem.

    YES, I realize that I will probably just have to practice more standing up.

    Any input at all would be appreciated, except for comments about using my wrist for "other" activities. I'm rather worried about this, and don't care for those jokes right about now.

    Mods- If this belongs in Misc or Off-Topic, sorry. I'm just assuming hands-technique, but whatever.
  2. if you sit down, you shouldn't put the bass in your lap.. that decreases controll over it..

    over your right leg is the best.. ( or left leg if you're a lefty ofcoz ;) )

    try it.. it releases a lot of strain on your wrists..
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    All the advice I've seen for good technique - i.e. technique that avoids causing injury or problems like this, says that you should have your bass on the strap, so that it is in exactly the same position whether you are sitting down or standing up.

    I think that putting undue strain on your wrist for long periods can be dangerous. When playing, your wrist should be as relaxed as possible (so it is in a position that feels natural, rather than requiring effort to maintain) if you want to avoid this sort of strain.
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Sounds like some sort of nerve compression causing altered sensation to me. May not be carpal tunnel syndrome (which is specific for the median nerve) but there are other nerves innervating the hand through the wrist that may be compressed from bad technique.

    Like Bruce said, when you practice, wear the bass exactly like you would if you were gigging - this exercises your hand and arm muscles in the right position, and improves your technique, as well as preventing RSI (repetitive strain injury).
  5. MatW


    May 10, 2000
    UK, Swindon
    I don't know if this will help, but I wear my bass at chest level, and so my hand position is the same if I'm sitting or standing. I'd find it off putting if my hand positions kept moving about.

    Also, when I first started I played sitting down pretty much all the time, I then that standing up when I was playing a gig was quite difficult for a while. So it's a good idea to practise standing up too.

    I hope everything works out okay with your wrist.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Ulnar Nerve Dystrophy.

    That's what they called it when I went in. My pinky and ring fingers began to lose sensation about 6 months after I got my TRB6 (W I D E spacing). I brought my bass to the doctor's office (I got strange looks, but I'm glad I did), and the doctor asked to see me play it. As soon as she saw me hold it, she knew the deal. My solution was to raise the strap pin on the bridge side of the body up, putting the bass at more of an angle and reducing the funny angle my wrist was being forced into.

    And I totally agree on making sure that your bass stays in the same position, seating and standing.
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks Dr. Mike,

    One of the resident Talkbass doctors, mikemulcahy, gave me great advice one time: Before you play or practice, run hot/really warm water over your wrists, hands, and fingers to increase blood flow throughout your hands.

    Also, really stretch them before you begin playing. These things can help tremendously.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Good advice everyone....another good thing to try is to elevate your right foot (or at least, your right heel) when practicing sitting down. If your bass is sitting on your right leg, this will raise the bass, thereby decreasing the amount of unhealthy angle in your right wrist.

    I wonder how FiElDy manages to stay injury free?? Maybe if you stay really stoned every time you play, you won't notice if your wrist hurts.....
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I expect he can afford a stunt double by now! ;)
  10. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Thanks for all the help, guys. I wear my bass on the strap in just a little bit lower standing up as sitting down, but I think the problem lies in my right hand placement. Normally, I'm reaching over the top, with my hand and fingers perpendicular to the strings. I'm going to try reaching more "around" the body of the bass, rather than "over". And I do wear my bass over my leg, sorry, I guess "in my lap" was kind of vague. I'll do the stretches, practice standing up more, and try and reach around more to decrease my wrist angle. We'll see what happens in a few days or so.

    Pacman- I'll keep that term in mind, every now and again my pinky and ring finger get a little tingly, like they're falling asleep, but not quite there. Hopefully I'll avoid that from now on.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the help!
  11. I use a bar stool and a strap. The seat is high enough so that my legs are out of the way. I can sit my tired old butt down, rest my feet a bit and still have the bass hang at it's normal place.


    Apr 13, 2001
    Kent, England.
    That doesn't sound like anything to worry too much about if its just a pain in the wrist. I think I've managed to damage my plucking arm in some way by bending the wrist too much. I was practicing with my band and had to stop as my fingers just locked in position. Now when I play for about an hour or more I get a tingling sensation that runs down the whole of my fore-arm.

    If you try to adjust your posture to reduce the angle of both wrists while playing you shouldn't run into any problems.
    Thing is I see a lot of bass players playing with a 90 degree angle in the plucking wrist in order to plat perpendicular to the strings.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    You might want to see a doctor. That sounds like the beginning of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.


    Apr 13, 2001
    Kent, England.
    Really? I knew I should have warmed up.:(

    It didn't help that when I did it I was working in an office typing all day so I never had the chance to let it heal. It doesn't happen all the time, only when I dig in and play too hard, but its sudden and comes without warning, gives me a bit of a shock.