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Thumb pain

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Gaspar, Mar 29, 2016.


  1. Gaspar

    Gaspar

    Jul 13, 2015
    Guys I need help! Recently I ran into the problem with my thumb where it would hurt alot and I just thought to myself "meh it's juust sore. It'll fix on it's own". But almost a month passed and I still experience it! To be clear while I'm playing it's not a problem. The problem occurs when I do the 1-2-3-4 exercise on the lowest frets or when I play it backwards like 4-3-2-1. Maybe it's a strech issue or something but I thought I might ask you. And Not like I have small hands. Thank you!
     
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Stop doing the exerices that hurt you.
    Exercises are to help you....any exercise that hurts and damages you is no longer an exercise it is a problem.

    So where in the thumb is the pain?
    You have the two joints at the thumb and the pad at the base of it?
    Is the pain in either of those joints?
    Is the pain to the back or the front of the thumbs flexion, (the direction in which joint bends to the palm is flexion)
    Is the pain at the front or the back when in extension (the direction of extension is it straightening out)
    is it a dull or sharp pain?
    Is there any sign of swelling?

    If you answer yes to one of these questions see a medical profesional., and review what you are doing when you play.
    F.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
    Scatabrain likes this.
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Don't do that. Problem solved!
     
    Scatabrain likes this.
  4. Yes if there is pain don't do it. Discomfort, well, that is something else. Right at first we ask our body to do things it never has done before so there may be some discomfort, but pain is not a part of music.

    Fergie usually gives good medical advice. I do not believe there is a medical doctor on this forum, so....... if it keeps up talk to your family doctor.

    Good luck.
     
    Scatabrain likes this.
  5. Bondobass

    Bondobass

    Mar 14, 2014
    Where are you positioning your thumb? You should consciously be keeping the thumb behind where your middle finger falls onto the neck. So, take your left hand off the Bass, touch thumb to middle finger, it should be the same on the neck. My thumb likes to wander off toward the headstock, like it's hitchhiking, I gotta keep after it, make it do the right thing.
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The position you describe is tense/painful for me; seems to compress something in my palm and give me a cramp after 30-60 minutes.

    I get more comfortable results if I make sure my palm is wide and relaxed, like I am opening my catcher's mitt to catch a baseball. This puts my thumb behind my index finger, or even a little bit past my index finger toward the headstock.

    One of my teachers helped me visualize this, to imagine I am gently cradling an egg in the palm of my left hand. This helps give the fretting hand a strong natural arch.
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Only quoting you, as it is a long held belief...nothing more, not saying right or wrong, but why do you believe your thumb behind the middle finger...out of interest.
     
  8. Bondobass

    Bondobass

    Mar 14, 2014
    I find it's a better grip. My problem, especially when shifting to higher positions, is that my thumb would get wide, and personally I feel that's less of a grip. So I often correct myself.
     
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Cool stuff thanks for the reply, when you say higher do you mean up over the 12th fret or down towards the 1st fret?
     
  10. Gaspar

    Gaspar

    Jul 13, 2015
    Guys thank you for all your replies! My thumb is always behind my first finger or in the middle of the first and second fingers. The problem is even more apparent now because now even basic scale exercises hurt my thumb. I personally think it's a streching problem. Maybe I should go see a doctor after all.
     
  11. Bondobass

    Bondobass

    Mar 14, 2014
    Ok, tension seems to build as I try and keep my thumb "behind the middle finger" as I go towards the 12th fret, so going in that direction, I'll let the thumb move towards index or even past. I will stand with thumb in said position at first five frets though
     
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Interesting, its normally the other way for most players, the thumb moves toward the headstock, which is a natural movement, then comes in behind the fore-middle finger as the elbow comes closer to the side as the hand approaches past the 7th fret, again a natural movement.
    Cool talking and I hope you work it out to your satisfaction, maybe have an overall look at your bass, your setup, your basses setup may help you get to the bottom of this issue.
    Again thanks for the info.
     
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Yes see a doctor for any pain really.
    Word of note, you should never seek to put your finger behind your thumb regardless.
    Yes your thumb will find itself behind fingers, but that is more to do with angles, than technique.
    In holding the thumb, or any part of your body for that matter, in an un-natural position will cause un-wanted tension.
    Muscles use tension to work, they work in pair to always pull your body in positions, so un-wanted tension is a problem.
    A definition of repetitive stain injury, is repeated motions under stress or tension.
    So if you repeat the same motions in the same positions you are being repetitive, so vary the motion and how you use it.
    One variation is to let the thumb go where it wants, let the finger position dictate the thumb position, not put the thumb in a position to dictate finger positions.
    The same applies to elbows and wrists, we cannot always hold postures.
    The longer any posture is held the more tension will develop...something to think about.
    Good luck with it all.
     
  14. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    When I was first playing I had a similar problem. My bass teacher at the time told me to try not putting my thumb on the back of the neck for a few minutes and use my elbow for fretting strength. He then explained to me that fretting strength should come from the elbow. After lightening my grip on the neck the problem sorted itself out. Well almost. Due to what was for me a bad set up with too high action I started to get tendinitis in my elbow. I caught that issue quickly and switched to lighter strings and lowered my action.

    C/S,
    Rev J
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  15. Gaspar

    Gaspar

    Jul 13, 2015
    Man your reply helped me so much! I discovered the problem! I tried doing it that way without my thumb on the neck and I realizes something!
    MY THUMB WAS STILL HURTIG :D :D
    Then I realized that even though I'm not using my thumb i still pressure it into an awkward angle and thats what's been the issue.
    Kinda dumb I know :D welp..
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  16. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    No, not dumb. It's the prime reason all teachers say the goal is to "relax while playing". I was getting a touch of bursitis in my left shoulder recently. I thought it was from shedding DB, or my playing angle, but the underlying cause was that my shoulder was tense. Learning to relax it solved the problem.
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  17. Bondobass

    Bondobass

    Mar 14, 2014
    I follow:
    GUITAR PRINCIPLES | Jamie Andreas | Creator of the Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar

    (for 6 string guitar)

    She says to bring the left hand close to the neck, somewhere around the 9th fret, gently touch your thumb to middle finger, separate them. Keep them in line with each other. Fingers hover over the strings, thumb behind the neck..."somewhere between the first and second fingers". Do not let it go too far to the left, it will not be able to give opposing support if it moves too far to the left.

    I think the last sentence about support is what this whole exercise is about
     
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I recommend to take some private lessons with a bass specialist. An in person teacher can look at your hands and give you specific feedback.

    Basing your entire bass technique on one sentence from a classical guitar website might have gotten you this far, but I wouldn't go around repeating that suggestion to other players. Are you holding your bass in the classical guitar position (seated, your left foot elevated by a stool, bass between your legs with the neck at a 45 degree angle) or did you cherry pick the thumb advice out of context?

    When I watch my bass heroes play, legendary players who have decades-long careers, their posture, hand positions, and finger/thumb techniques are very different from what I see classical guitarists doing. Being good at one doesn't make you an expert at the other. Or at least that is my theory/opinion (I am a humble person).
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  19. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Cheers and thanks for the link, good luck with it all.
     
  20. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
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    Primary TB Assistant

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