Tightness in left hand after practising for 8 hours a day for three days straight

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bisheri, Feb 25, 2021.

Is this routine feasible?

Poll closed Mar 4, 2021.
  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
  2. No

    13 vote(s)
  3. Perhaps with better/safer technique

    5 vote(s)
  1. Bisheri


    Feb 2, 2020
    Hello TB. I started playing bass about four months ago on a fretless bass. For most of that time I haven't played anywhere near enough. Last week though, I decided to take my playing a lot more seriously and since then, whenever I have a free day I play/practice all day, 8 or so hours a day with a few breaks in-between. On normal days I do about four hours.

    I did the 8 hour routine in the form of 3+2+3 hours (with small breaks every 20 or so minutes) twice last week with several recovery days of 4 hour practise in-between because I was busy. This week though I've been totally free because I've had no classes (I'm a student) and I've gone hard at the bass for three days straight. Last night, after wrapping up, I noticed some tightness in my left/fretting hand, around the knuckles. By today morning, it was mostly gone and I'm thinking about diving into another day of lots of practise.

    My questions are these:
    1. Is it feasible to maintain such a routine 6 days a week for a year or two? At least until I overcome most of my bass playing inadequacies. Or will I need to fit in recovery days like athletes do?

    2. Is this a stamina issue? How can I build up stamina?

    3. What practise routines do you use, and what routines did you use

    PS: I know my left hand technique isn't the best, part of my practice is playing simple lines while concentrating on my left hand. I mostly use Adam Neely's "healthy" left hand technique but with a bit more use of the finger pads because I play fretless.

    Also, I use 1234 fingering a lot. I find that this works better than 124 when it comes to arabic music and it's many scales because it's a lot easier for me to "see the notes" on the fingerboard when playing 1234. 1234 is also easier for solo melodies. 124 works well for the rest of what I play, but at this stage I'd rather focus on one system and build muscle memory and stamina.
  2. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    Wow! I’m not a pro and I’ve only been playing 5 years myself but I was an amateur athlete in my younger days. You’ve only been playing 4 months and you’re already practicing way more than most pros from what I’ve read. Think about it this way: an athlete doesn’t go from zero miles to running a marathon in 4 months without serious risk of injury. Yes, rest breaks are as important to an athlete as training but over training always ends up with an injury. 4 hours practice is not a recovery session. A recovery session needs to be a very light session just to loosen the fingers up from the stress they have been under. Maybe 30 minutes slow but clean scales and arpeggios with the focus on slow. I know of a world record holding cyclist that used to go for recovery rides with an amateur club and sit on the back of the group talking. That’s how easy recovery should be.

    What’s the rush? Why do you feel that you need 8 hours a day? I think you risk burn out and a loss of motivation as well as fatigue if you continue at this rate. Maybe you’re used to being good at things and are frustrated at your lack of progress? Relax! It’ll come. Maybe get a good teacher who can asses your technique and see what is causing pain but it sounds like over training. Stamina comes but you can’t build stamina quickly. It comes with repetition of daily practice, not mega training sessions.
    Oddly, elgecko and J_Bass like this.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    The biggest problem with practicing 2 or 3 hours at a time isn't necessarily physical, but rather that it's a very inefficient way to learn. Your brain can only process and retain so much new information at a time, so once you've gone an hour or so you reach a point of diminishing returns in terms of how much you learn per unit of time. For example, you'll retain much more from three separate one-hour sessions (or, even better, six half-hour sessions) than from a single three-hour session. This is a well-established principle in scientific research on learning. (Google "massed vs. distributed practice" for more information.)
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    It's not that you build stamina along the years as much as you save energy and movement. Playing relaxed let you do whatever you want a lot longer but it takes years of practice to achieve.
    There is no practical reason to play 8 hours a day on the instrument except for wedding gigs. Most of the practice happens in your head.
    When you play a scale or line in your head you learn it. Instrument is just for intonation accuracy and strictly technical issues.
    Huw Phillips likes this.
  5. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    3 days x 8 hours in a row is a lot of playing. Especially if you are new to bass. I’m not surprised you’re getting some pushback from your poor hands!

    i would take it down to a few hours a day in shorter bursts.

    And yes, i agree on getting a teacher and trying 124 fingering to see if this suits you better.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    In a nutshell..you are over doing it, in terms of both your hands and your brain. Quality is better than quantity.
    TheAnalogKid and Lobster11 like this.
  7. I'm almost 61 and can easily practice around 6+ hours a day over several days with no ill effects. I warm up my hands and wrists with light weight training and stretches designed for major league baseball pitchers before every session. But I don't always practice that long each and every day. I'm pretty sure I could if I wanted to though.
  8. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    Ok, but is that how you started out from beginner or had you been playing a while before you started such long practice days?
  9. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    It takes along while to develop your technique to where you know how to apply pressure to hold the strings down - most beginners clamp the strings awkwardly, resulting in things like you're describing. I'd say back off to half the time (get another hobby?) for a while until you have better technique.
  10. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    I've seen you post this a couple of times before and I have to tell you it just warms my heart to see this. I'm a psychology professor and I cover some of this research in my classes, so it's awesome to see it "out in the wild," as it were.

    OP: I really admire your commitment to a rigorous practice routine, that's awesome. But as has been said, 8 continuous hours is not as effective for learning as breaking it up, and as @micguy has noted, as a relative novice your technique is probably raw enough that it's not doing you any physical favors, either.

    Try 75-minute sessions where for the first 5-10 minutes you're stretching and doing light warmups. Four of those in a day, spaced out as evenly as possible (most importantly, first thing when you get up and right before you go to sleep), and you should both learn just as fast as 8 straight hours a day, and it should save you a lot of the physical discomfort.

    If you still want to use a full 8 hours of the day, use the in-between times to work on theory or ear training or something like that without an instrument in your hands. Or spend way too much of it on TalkBass, which is what I do.
    Lobster11 likes this.
  11. Since the beginning.

    Thing is, some people can take it and some can't. Nobody has the same physiology.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    Yonni likes this.
  12. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    I absolutely agree with this. There are genetic markers that make some people more able to cope with these body stresses, but this level of practice is at the extremes for most. If Said is already experiencing stiffness after one week of this regime, I’d take that as a warning sign.
  13. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    My thoughts exactly.
    Slow down.
  14. Bisheri


    Feb 2, 2020
    Thanks for all the advice. I'll definitely cut down and spread out the practice time. Perhaps four one hour sessions per day.
    Yonni likes this.
  15. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    Wait just a minute there. Someone who asked for advice on TB is actually going to take the advice given?

    Mods, can we like bronze this thread or something? That's gotta be a first.
  16. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    All of the above, plus: If you're working toward focused, achievable goals, you're more likely to experience efficient, positive results from your efforts.

    One more thing: If it hurts, stop.
    Oddly likes this.
  17. WrapRough


    Jan 26, 2021
    You could also practice different things, there's lots to learn on the bass and not just technique... Learning the fretboard, theory, ear training, reading etc... If you have 8hrs a day to dedicate to bass (I'm jealous) it doesn't have to be entirely physical.
    Said Bisher likes this.
  18. DarnellBass

    DarnellBass Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    I've been doing these stretches since my teacher taught me back in like '99
    Said Bisher likes this.
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