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RSI/tendinitis etc from guitar?


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I try to practice in all my spare time but I can't too much cause my fretting wrist has been hurting, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. My hand is as relaxed as it can be, I have my thumb hanging over whenever I can, I don't push too hard. I hear about Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen and other guitarists that practiced 12hrs some days and I want to do that but I don't play more than half an hour at a time, a few times a day max. I started playing about 4-5 months ago and in the 1st 2 weeks i had school holidays and played riffs and stuff with bad technique non stop all holidays, then my wrist was hurting so i played less, I started lessons and learned proper techniques, and it was fine for a while until the christmas holidays, i was playing the same scales up and down for hours, then it started hurting again so I stopped, its been about 3 weeks and the pains gone down but i still can't play anything like power chords or bar chords with the thumb behind the neck for too long.

So how do you practice for as long as you want without getting the pain again, Is it bad playing the exact same pattern constantly? and i've asked this a million times on ultimate-guitar and yahoo answers and no-one's said what I can do now, they tell me the basics like relaxing, which I already do, has anyone had the problem?

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I try to practice in all my spare time but I can't too much cause my fretting wrist has been hurting, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. My hand is as relaxed as it can be, I have my thumb hanging over whenever I can, I don't push too hard. I hear about Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen and other guitarists that practiced 12hrs some days and I want to do that but I don't play more than half an hour at a time, a few times a day max. I started playing about 4-5 months ago and in the 1st 2 weeks i had school holidays and played riffs and stuff with bad technique non stop all holidays, then my wrist was hurting so i played less, I started lessons and learned proper techniques, and it was fine for a while until the christmas holidays, i was playing the same scales up and down for hours, then it started hurting again so I stopped, its been about 3 weeks and the pains gone down but i still can't play anything like power chords or bar chords with the thumb behind the neck for too long.

So how do you practice for as long as you want without getting the pain again, Is it bad playing the exact same pattern constantly? and i've asked this a million times on ultimate-guitar and yahoo answers and no-one's said what I can do now, they tell me the basics like relaxing, which I already do, has anyone had the problem?

I have had the same problem and I found it's best to rest it for atleast two days. Although it kills not being able to play, your wrist could use a break. Although I know you have heard it a million times, rest rest rest rest. Try to use it as little as possible and if the pain stops pick up the guitar and see how it works. Best of luck. Keep me updated.

Pat(Zosofan11)

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I try to practice in all my spare time but I can't too much cause my fretting wrist has been hurting, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. My hand is as relaxed as it can be, I have my thumb hanging over whenever I can, I don't push too hard. I hear about Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen and other guitarists that practiced 12hrs some days and I want to do that but I don't play more than half an hour at a time, a few times a day max. I started playing about 4-5 months ago and in the 1st 2 weeks i had school holidays and played riffs and stuff with bad technique non stop all holidays, then my wrist was hurting so i played less, I started lessons and learned proper techniques, and it was fine for a while until the christmas holidays, i was playing the same scales up and down for hours, then it started hurting again so I stopped, its been about 3 weeks and the pains gone down but i still can't play anything like power chords or bar chords with the thumb behind the neck for too long.

So how do you practice for as long as you want without getting the pain again, Is it bad playing the exact same pattern constantly? and i've asked this a million times on ultimate-guitar and yahoo answers and no-one's said what I can do now, they tell me the basics like relaxing, which I already do, has anyone had the problem?

You've been playing for 5 months?! Well, that's normal to feel pain in your hand muscles. Playing guitar is kind of an unusual thing for a hand.

Don't worry about not being able to do the bar chords. It took me about a year or so before being able to do bar chords. I picked up my guitar one day and it just work. And I was playing on an acoustic guitar, so it was very hard to do the chords!

Learning to play guitar is a painful and long thing, but don't lose your interest just because of that.

Go to your local music shop and buy yourself one of these things...

gripmaster-blue-01-800x600.jpg

What kind of guitar are you playing? Electric?

Give us some feedback, mate!

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ditto what was said above, but I was thinking if you were doing 12 hours a day with an improper positon you might want to let that heal , vitamins, soaking , gental streaching and then slowly work yourself back up. real slow. perfect time for finger picking technique practice open tunings, music theory , piano, ear training, voice lessons ............

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No offense to anyone here, but DO NOT ever buy one of those silly "finger exercise" machines. You will only risk doing real damage to your hands. The only way to properly build finger strength is to practice on your guitar.

As for the "I want to practice 15 hours a day, etc." thing. That's a leftover from the 1980's, when guitar players would try to outdo each other by claiming that they played allllll day long. The reality is that we will never know if Zakk Wylde or Eddie Van Halen really practiced 12 hours a day. I highly doubt they did. And even so, it doesn't matter, they are good because they have a natural ability at the guitar. The length of practice you do in one day will only get you so far unless you are using proper technique.

If your wrist is hurting after only playing the guitar for a few months, you need to evaluate your posture and your positioning. The last thing you want to do is have a low slung guitar like Jimmy Page, where you have to wrap your thumb around the neck. The great myth is that wearing your guitar like that helps you play better. It doesn't. Never has, never will. Check out photos of Page from 1969-1971, when he was making his biggest jumps playing-wise. In 1969 he had his Telecaster halfway up his torso, and by 1971 he had the Les Paul just at his stomach. It wasn't until 1973-1977 that he started overdoing the visual aspect of having his guitar so low. And guess what happened? He got tendonitis and his playing started rapidly declining, so that by 1977 he wasn't half the technical player he used to be.

If you are just learning to play, yes your fingertips and the muscles in your palm and wrist will ache a little. But that will go away with more practice. You have to get the muscles used to that motion. Once you get passed that problem, you can then hone in on the songs you like playing, so that they become easier and easier. But it all starts with good technique.

As for the people who worry about tendonitis, etc. 99% of all of us "normal" players will never get it. Again, that's another 1980's leftover from when players would pretend to claim that they were starting to get tendonitis. Just like the practice-thing. Apparently people thought it sounded good to say it. As if it suggested that that person must really be a good guitar player if they were getting tendonitis.

The reason why Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, or Jimmy Page got it is because they were in bands that played for hours on end every single night. After 10+ years of doing that, 100's of shows a year, each lasting 2-3 hours, with all of that stress on the body....yeah you may start developing problems. Especially if you don't use good technique. Which, for most players, they don't. But no bedroom guitarist or kid in some local band is going to develop tendonitis from playing house parties or practicing in their garage. No matter how much they play. Not unless you were unlucky enough to have been pre-disposed to get it, or you are doing something seriously wrong with your technique. Sure, your fingers may be sore the next day after playing for hours the day before. But that's no different than the muscles in your legs being sore after you've just run a marathon.

Technique, technique, technique...

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No offense to anyone here, but DO NOT ever buy one of those silly "finger exercise" machines. You will only risk doing real damage to your hands. The only way to properly build finger strength is to practice on your guitar.

As for the "I want to practice 15 hours a day, etc." thing. That's a leftover from the 1980's, when guitar players would try to outdo each other by claiming that they played allllll day long. The reality is that we will never know if Zakk Wylde or Eddie Van Halen really practiced 12 hours a day. I highly doubt they did. And even so, it doesn't matter, they are good because they have a natural ability at the guitar. The length of practice you do in one day will only get you so far unless you are using proper technique.

If your wrist is hurting after only playing the guitar for a few months, you need to evaluate your posture and your positioning. The last thing you want to do is have a low slung guitar like Jimmy Page, where you have to wrap your thumb around the neck. The great myth is that wearing your guitar like that helps you play better. It doesn't. Never has, never will. Check out photos of Page from 1969-1971, when he was making his biggest jumps playing-wise. In 1969 he had his Telecaster halfway up his torso, and by 1971 he had the Les Paul just at his stomach. It wasn't until 1973-1977 that he started overdoing the visual aspect of having his guitar so low. And guess what happened? He got tendonitis and his playing started rapidly declining, so that by 1977 he wasn't half the technical player he used to be.

If you are just learning to play, yes your fingertips and the muscles in your palm and wrist will ache a little. But that will go away with more practice. You have to get the muscles used to that motion. Once you get passed that problem, you can then hone in on the songs you like playing, so that they become easier and easier. But it all starts with good technique.

As for the people who worry about tendonitis, etc. 99% of all of us "normal" players will never get it. Again, that's another 1980's leftover from when players would pretend to claim that they were starting to get tendonitis. Just like the practice-thing. Apparently people thought it sounded good to say it. As if it suggested that that person must really be a good guitar player if they were getting tendonitis.

The reason why Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, or Jimmy Page got it is because they were in bands that played for hours on end every single night. After 10+ years of doing that, 100's of shows a year, each lasting 2-3 hours, with all of that stress on the body....yeah you may start developing problems. Especially if you don't use good technique. Which, for most players, they don't. But no bedroom guitarist or kid in some local band is going to develop tendonitis from playing house parties or practicing in their garage. No matter how much they play. Not unless you were unlucky enough to have been pre-disposed to get it, or you are doing something seriously wrong with your technique. Sure, your fingers may be sore the next day after playing for hours the day before. But that's no different than the muscles in your legs being sore after you've just run a marathon.

Technique, technique, technique...

never thought of it that way before, not sure if it's right or not but I found that running warm water over my wrist before I play and every 30mins or so helped it

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  • 4 years later...

I've had a series of mishaps since I started playing guitar again at the end of March...I got over the shoulder thing that I mentioned in another thread and my pinky and wrist developed strength, so those are no longer issues. Then in June I was injured by a massage therapist. I may get a settlement from the spa's insurance company...I went to physical therapy a couple of times but found it marginally helpful. I think I incurred a little tendonitis along with muscle strain from the "massage." I found a Youtube video of a guitarist in France talking about the exercises his physical therapist showed him that were more helpful than the ones I'd been doing--mainly I do the first one, which stretches the tight muscles near the elbow:

I also took a lot of breaks. Things were getting better, than I had a mishap with my new electric guitar--I had the strap over my shoulder while I was sitting down, then I stood up and the strap fell of the top hook! I caught the neck of the guitar before it hit the floor, with, of course, my left hand. So now I have a little bit of an injury along the outside of my wrist and back of my hand behind my pinky and ring finger, because that's what took most of the shock of the falling guitar. If anyone knows of a brand of strap that doesn't fall off your guitar, let me know!

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  • 2 months later...

This is a great thread, thanks everybody for your contributions.

Bring says, "I don't play more than half an hour at a time, a few times a day max." That's exactly what my last guitar teacher recommended. He said there's no point in practicing beyond 20-30 minutes in one session, because your brain and muscle memory stops learning much after that. So practicing in shorter chunks of time is better than practicing hours at a time.

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