An essay by Jack Grassel
Musicians need to practice and perform at the peak of ability for long periods of time without damaging the body. If you have a serious chronic problem, see a doctor. Evaluate your posture. Playing under stress causes damage. I have observed many guitarists with incorrect (for them) posture who are in physical trouble from damage-producing finger, hand, wrist, arm, neck and back movements.
You should be able to enjoy playing the guitar pain-free for many hours. Drugs which reduce inflammation and pain may cause other health problems by reducing resistance to disease.
The best solution is to stop it at the source. If you are playing a lot and the inflamation and pain gets bad, stop playing for a few days. Give your hands a rest. A great musician must not sabotage himself through destructive habits. A musician is an athlete who should be in top physical condition.
It's better to practice multiple short periods than one long one. For example, practice a half hour 3 times a day instead of and hour and a half once a day. Practice 6 half hour periods instead of one 3 hour session. That gives your hands and your brain a break.
1. Relax the hands before playing and keep them relaxed while playing. Soak them in warm-hot water for 3-5 minutes before playing to loosen up the muscles. If you have a big enough sink, emerse the entire arm, or soak in a bath tub. Washing dishes is a great thing to do before practicing.
2. At the end of the session, soak in cold water to reduce inflammation. Immediately at the beginning of a break during your gig, go to the restroom and run cold water on your hands. In cold climates, wear gloves to the gigs to warm the hands, loosen them, and protect them while loading equipment. Avoid gloves after the gig to chill the hands.
3. Avoid liniments which numb the pain but don't reduce inflammation. You need to be aware of pain to you know the condition of your hands and arms. You can seriously hurt yourself by playing with numb hands.
4. Get regular massages by a Certified Massage Therapist, including shoulders, neck and arms. It's not good to massage the hands if they are inflamed.
5. Avoid caffiene, sugar, alchohol, drugs, marijuana, and energy drinks. They increase stress, making you unpredictably sensitive or numb resulting in bad choices, bad time, and increased chance of injury.
6. Hands are in use all day. There are ways to open doors, lift glasses, hold eating utensils and pens, steer a car, and tie shoes that cause less stress on the hands. Save your hands for making music.
7. When typing or playing the piano, the chair should be high enough so that elbows are higher than wrists.
8. Stop hurting your hands while playing the guitar. Relax and keep your wrists straight. Relax your face and neck when you play. Use a strap.
9. Don't use your hands in place of tools! There are pliers, screw drivers, letter and box openers, scissors, that can reduce hand use.
10. Get a hand truck to protect your body while moving equipment. Always wear gloves.
11. Be careful when shaking hands during personal introductions. Just grab the finger tips so some macho man doesn't crush your hand before you walk onstage.
12. Learn to hold things without using pressure between the thumb and the other fingers. Squeezing the thumb and fore finger together causes tension in the whole arm.
13. In general, as you go through life, do your daily tasks causing as little wear on your hands, ears, eyes and body as possible.
14. Check the website of the Mayo clinic regarding carpal tunnel syndrome. They suggest practicing 15-20 minutes at a time separated by rest periods.
15. The spice "Turmeric" is available in capsules from health food stores. It's excellent at reducing inflammation! It's used to season Indian food.
16. "Zylamend" softgels promote a healthy inflammation response in your body.
17. Nature's Plus: "GlucosamineChondroitin MSM" can increase agility in older players.
18. Some folks get relief from muscle strain by soaking the hands in "Epsom salt" solution. It's available sold at the pharmacy.
19. For situations where you are in pain from overuse and it's an acute situation, use "L'Bri Super Aloe Multi Function Pain Relief Cream". This gets you out of pain in a hurry and increases agility. Available at: www.jillj.LBri.com
20. When playing a gig, your face is what most people look at most of the time. L'Bri Pure and Natural Skincare, Cosmetics and Nutrition are the best to help make your face look as attractive, young and healthy as possible. Learn more, view Product Guide, and get FREE samples. Visit www.jillj.LBri.com
21. Your hands are a small part of your body. Overall good health of the entire body is necessary to play music well for long periods of time. Get acquainted with Jack La Lanne's regimans for good health through his books. Visit him at: www.jacklalanne.com
22. I have helped many guitarists prevent and recover from injury. You can meet with me one on one to have me critique your interface with your instrument. In person or using skype. I can help you. Sign up for a skype lesson from the opening page of this website or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU ARE YOUR INSTRUMENT by Julie Lieberman
PLAYING (LESS) HURT by Janet Horvath
THE ATHLETIC MUSICIAN (A Guide To Playing Without Pain) by Barbara Paul and Christine Harrison
See MUSICAL FITNESS on our shopping cart to purchase these books.