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worried about wrist pain (RH)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by core, Aug 18, 2005.


  1. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    I've been playing bass for a couple years and recently, I've developed a sore right wrist and I'm wondering if anyone else has run into this situation.

    My right hand is my plucking hand. I rest my thumb on the pickup and play fingerstyle using two fingers and occasionally add in my ring finger. The past few weeks, I've often been playing while sitting down and in this position, my right arm is almost parallel with the ground so my wrist is almost at a right angle, with my fingers pointing down to the ground.

    My wrist does not hurt while I play, regardless of how long I play. But when I stop playing and un-flex my wrist, it is usually sore for a little while afterwards. During normal activities (using computer, eating, driving...), it usually does not hurt except for when I do something that makes me have to push my wrist back (like the way your hand would be positioned when you do push ups, at a 90 degree angle to your arm, palm outward.).

    Any one else have any clue what I'm talking about? Heh...hopefully I'm just a hypochondriac, but I didn't want to let this go if it was actually an important thing! :D

    ps if this should be in misc, feel free to move it...I couldn't decide where it was supposed to go, but I saw similar threads in Technique... -.-
     
  2. thewanderer24

    thewanderer24

    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    This is a common problem. I think most people who have played any length of time have dealt with something like this.

    Don't ignore the pain. It definitely could be technique related, and can definitely get worse with time.

    It's hard to diagnose without seeing your playing style. I would suggest finding a teacher that can help you with this.

    Also, in the meantime I HIGHLY recommend that you start doing stretches (could be as simple as just rolling your wrists in circles both directions, and shaking out your hands) often throughout the day - NOT just when you are playing your bass.

    Sorry, this is the quick version. I gotta run.


     
  3. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I 2nd the stretching exercises. Before and after your practice session.

    Look into relaxing your mind and body as much as possible too. For me, creating music is mostly about discipline of the mind, with aspects of physical ability of course.

    The time of day that I feel that at I'm the most relaxed, is first thing in the morning - about 6:00am. It feels a little odd, just waking up, grabing your instrument, and start practicing. But seems to work well for me.
     
  4. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    okie dokie, I'll try to work stretching into my daily routine as often as possible...sounds like a good idea, hopefully it'll help

    thanks for the replies :)
     
  5. Perhaps the position of your bass needs to be modified a bit. I Used to get that alot. But when I 'centered' my bass and play it holding the neck in a classical guitar style my wrist pain subsided. SO i adjust the strap length to allow the bass to be a tad bit higher than when it is resting on your lap while you play. It does takes some getting used to if you are a low positioned bass player. :bassist:

    And the stretchings are a definite must. :hyper: :D
     
  6. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    *nods* I just tightened up my shoulder strap recently to put my bass at my sitting-down height; before, it was a bit lower than that. not too much of a change really, still waiting to see if the pain recedes after a few days of the new position. ^_^
     
  7. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    I've experienced the same thing, as many of us have. I've tried playing the way that Magoo describes, and it certainly helps, but old habits die hard. When sitting, try holding your bass in such a way that your wrist is not at such a severe angle. Sitting position can be important, too. This may be coincidence, but I've just finished up an 11 eleven show run of Little Shop and sat on a barstool - necessitating good posture. When I've had right wrist pain in the past, I seem so remember getting lazy with my posture.

    Peace.
     
  8. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Hey, I forgot to mention that if it hurts, lay off. This may be obvious, but taking a couple days away from your bass won't kill you and will give your wrist a chance to recoup before attempting a new technique.
     
  9. I agree. Plus pacing yourself during wrist recovery is like pumping iron for biceps. My PT & OT both suggest that instead of doing 6-8 hour rehearsals a day try fragmenting it throughout the week. It goes against the 'must practice at least 6 hours everyday principle' but it's like going to the gym and working out. You can't pump iron everyday unless you really want to rip muscles. BUt the effects come later in life. They suggest (which I reluctantly agreed to at first) to just reserve 2 days of hardcore practice. The rest of the days are like 1-2hour light practice sessions that can be done twice a day. I've been following their advice for a little over a year and it works. :) sure i may not be as technically clean as others yet, but at least i can stil play without problems until im 80 :smug:

    Angel Peña, one of my country's most renowned composers and bassists, is 84 and still plays jawdropping upright bass. He agreed with my OT & PT. So I guess It does work. Hehehe.. :bassist:
     
  10. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    Just a quick update --

    Prior to experiencing this pain, I always kept my thumb anchored on the pickup of my P bass... When I was playing earlier it felt natural to avoid the soreness by lifting up my thumb and playing un-anchored, so I did..and that seemed to relieve a lot of the stress. Problem somewhat solved, as it doesn't hurt to play anymore, although I'm still curious as to how it started.

    Thanks again for the replies, quite helpful place this is :)
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I must have missed this before, sorry I didn't answer sooner. Keeping your wrist at a right angle, I would bet money, is your culprit. Anchoring is probably not the problem. You probably relieve the bend in your wrist when you don't anchor. A lot of great players anchor, so that in and of itself is not a bad thing. It's that right angle bend.

    You shouldn't point your hand into the strings. You should try to keep your wrist straight and don't put your fingers perpendicular to the strings. Sounds like you're trying to point your fingers at the strings when you play, and you're just asking for carpal tunnel syndrome. I call that "overdoing technique." You're trying so hard to have good technique that you forgot about comfort. Don't do any techniques that cause you to feel like you're in an uncomfortable position. Good technique always means you're comfortable first and foremost.

    This leads me into a rant about technique nazis. Technique nazis tell you that you must wear your bass up high on your chest, with LH fingers exactly parallel with the frets at all times, and your RH not touching anything but strings and your right wrist not resting on the body and all this crap that people mistake for good technique. I am all about technique, but I live by this simple phrase:

    IF IT HURTS, DON'T DO IT!

    It hurts me to have the bass so high that my right arm's contorted, so I lowered the strap. It hurts me to not rest my forearm on the body, so I rest it. It hurts to bend my wrist, so I keep it straight. Comfort is the important thing. Some of have to be onstage for two hours or longer at a time, and the only way you can do that and not need surgery is to keep yourself comfortable.

    Good technique is always comfortable. That's why I have to laugh when I see technique nazis with their basses right under their armpits and their right arms pushed so far out that I know they can't be comfortable. Check out Vic Wooten...he's got his bass up under his armpits but he looks perfectly comfy.
     
  12. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    I realized later while playing that I actually exaggerated a bit about the degree of my wrist, but at the same time, I think you're right: I do feel like sometimes my wrist is bent a bit too much but it took this thread to make me think about that fact.

    I've been playing for so long (err, um, a few years?...) and I've just been keeping the same sort of position since I haven't really been serious, only been playing once a week at a local church. Never really thought about re-adjusting my position since I only played for two hours a week (college + piano in a jazz quartet took precedence), and I"ve only recently stepped-up my bass playing. Honestly, I feel like I did forget about comfort, as you said, but I'll make sure to keep an eye on that in the future.

    Thanks for all the help (^_^)
     
  13. I started out on Classical Guitar and my teacher was a stickler for good technique, so I started out on the right foot when it came time for me to start Bass. My teacher would always tell me to keep my wrists in a natural position and let my fingers do the moving. She had a very good tip for seeing your wrist in it's natural position. Sit straight in a chair and let your arms hang at your sides. Your wrists are now in their natural positions.

    Now to play in this position, it sometimes helps if you stick your (right) elbow out a bit. When sitting down, it also helps to have the bass resting on your left leg rather than your right leg, for hand position's sake.
     
  14. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I don't like to sound of that... that n word.

    Makes me sick reading this.
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You must be one ;)
     
  16. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Na mate.

    My music isn't political.

    I freely give ideas, and want nothing in return. I do not expect people to go of and use my ideas. If only 1 person out of 30,000 bass players uses my ideas, I am more than happy with that.

    Mozart said it best - love, love, love is all I have for my music. (something like that)
     
  17. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    This is true, but not all sorts of technique that simply don't hurt are correct in the sense that they actually facilitate playing. I could play my bass any number of ways that would be painless, but that doesn't make them more conducive to making music.
     
  18. Having your wrist at a right angle like that is what's causing the problem.
     
  19. core

    core

    Aug 4, 2005
    *nods* I've tried holding my elbow higher to lessen the angle of my wrist and different positions of my bass as well.
     
  20. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Resting your arm on the bass is a bad habit, period. When you play with your wrist at that angle, your tendons will eventually scream at you to stop, which is what they're doing right now I think.
    So...I know you're not going to like hearing this, but your wrist angle should be as straight as possible, with your forearm basically parallel to the bass body.

    Believe me, it takes a few months to get used to the new position, but just keep at it; the result is you'll end up with more speed, power and endurance in your playing. And no pain. Trust me!

    Good luck!