Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Dofpic
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:10 pm

Progress has been slower the last 3 weeks compared to my initial 8 weeks. I haven't lost any gains but further progress has slowed to a crawl. Serap thought this might happen as all of my previous lessons have been in person as she can observe everything. I am going back to see her in 3 weeks but have Skype sessions in the meantime. I am solid at 80BPM playing sixteenth note burst of 5. Single string or adjacent strings are solid. Anything more than 5 notes the excess tension starts creeping back in. Yesterday we worked on just playing simple repeated 4 notes to the beat at 40BPM which believe it or not was more difficult at first. She worked on me releasing tension and starting with a strong attack on the first note then de crescendo to Pianissimo as 8,12 or 16th note is played. Just thinking about this helps quite a bit with the tension. She also stressed listening to the tone as producing a beautiful tone means that your hand is playing naturally and your fingertips are acting as shock absorbers versus a harsh tone with too much tension in your hand.

Long way to go, but still plugging away.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

guit-box
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:09 pm

I find this argument that thinking too much about movements will cause dystonia to be simple-minded. Better information and careful study and observation are far superior to ignorance. I'd argue that ignorance about how the fingers and joints should move and consequently practicing 1000s of hours with bad movements is a recipe that could cause injury. Check out this recent post of Jermone D playing very fast free stroke scales. He's extending his large knuckle joint (MCP) at the instant he releases the string, generating the sound. It's the opposite of what teachers for decades have been teaching.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=80875&start=1365
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

uptempo

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by uptempo » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:36 pm

Can I ask a question. Is it his MCP extenting or is it the natural consequence of being able to relax the finger extremely quickly after plucking. I'm confused by the idea that he is deliberately extending. Good topic.

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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:05 am

uptempo wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:36 pm
Can I ask a question. Is it his MCP extenting or is it the natural consequence of being able to relax the finger extremely quickly after plucking. I'm confused by the idea that he is deliberately extending. Good topic.
I do not know, perhaps for some people the MCP extending is a consequence of a large follow-through of PIP/DIP. (ie it just happens for them) or maybe it's just relaxing or maybe it's intentional extending. The point is that if a joint finger is moving it's corresponding finger phalange away from the hand, it is extending, that's the definition of extension.

Probably the more important point is this: If we see the MCP extending at the moment the string is being sounded, then it can't under any circumstances also be in flexion at that moment. But most every modern method book or video tells us to follow through from the MCP or use lots of "swing space". Clearly then this is incorrect since no one (including the people teaching this) actually does this when they play.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:09 am

If you watch this and see something believable then I have some swamp land I'd like to sell you. Folks, there are lots of snake oil salesman and ambulance chasers out there, this one is totally fake. No one's hand with focal dystonia looks this erratic. If you don't believe me then search non-guitar related focal dystonia on youtube and look at all the cures -- from treatments, to pills, to creams, etc. it's big $ business to give people false hope while taking their money.


Youtube
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

uptempo

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by uptempo » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:48 pm

guit-box wrote:
Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:05 am
uptempo wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:36 pm
Can I ask a question. Is it his MCP extenting or is it the natural consequence of being able to relax the finger extremely quickly after plucking. I'm confused by the idea that he is deliberately extending. Good topic.
I do not know, perhaps for some people the MCP extending is a consequence of a large follow-through of PIP/DIP. (ie it just happens for them) or maybe it's just relaxing or maybe it's intentional extending. The point is that if a joint finger is moving it's corresponding finger phalange away from the hand, it is extending, that's the definition of extension.

Probably the more important point is this: If we see the MCP extending at the moment the string is being sounded, then it can't under any circumstances also be in flexion at that moment. But most every modern method book or video tells us to follow through from the MCP or use lots of "swing space". Clearly then this is incorrect since no one (including the people teaching this) actually does this when they play.
I have read that the flexion towards the back of the hand is used to cement the overall direction and feeling that the fingers should take, but when playing that accentuated movement is obviously reduced otherwise you would not get up to speed.

My view is that you are not seeing deliberate extension but rather you are seeing an ultra relaxed release of tension at speed and the extension is a natural consequence of moving to pluck the next note. It's what I would call skill - gained through a combination of natural ability and hard graft. To me the ability to discharge tension immediately after plucking seems obvious but not someasy to achieve.

I have had lessons off people who had me going into the palm of my hand but they were quick to point out that you don't actually play like this. I agree though that many teachers don't explain themselves.

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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:23 pm

uptempo wrote:
Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:48 pm
guit-box wrote:
Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:05 am
uptempo wrote:
Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:36 pm
Can I ask a question. Is it his MCP extenting or is it the natural consequence of being able to relax the finger extremely quickly after plucking. I'm confused by the idea that he is deliberately extending. Good topic.
I do not know, perhaps for some people the MCP extending is a consequence of a large follow-through of PIP/DIP. (ie it just happens for them) or maybe it's just relaxing or maybe it's intentional extending. The point is that if a joint finger is moving it's corresponding finger phalange away from the hand, it is extending, that's the definition of extension.

Probably the more important point is this: If we see the MCP extending at the moment the string is being sounded, then it can't under any circumstances also be in flexion at that moment. But most every modern method book or video tells us to follow through from the MCP or use lots of "swing space". Clearly then this is incorrect since no one (including the people teaching this) actually does this when they play.
I have read that the flexion towards the back of the hand is used to cement the overall direction and feeling that the fingers should take, but when playing that accentuated movement is obviously reduced otherwise you would not get up to speed.

My view is that you are not seeing deliberate extension but rather you are seeing an ultra relaxed release of tension at speed and the extension is a natural consequence of moving to pluck the next note. It's what I would call skill - gained through a combination of natural ability and hard graft. To me the ability to discharge tension immediately after plucking seems obvious but not someasy to achieve.

I have had lessons off people who had me going into the palm of my hand but they were quick to point out that you don't actually play like this. I agree though that many teachers don't explain themselves.
Most players I've observed extend the MCP the instant the note is released whether playing fast or slow. Whether it's relaxing or extending what matters most is it's not flexing, once the MCP brings the finger to the string and applies whatever pressure or momentum it's going to, then its work is done. It's the other joints that then take over to release the string.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

uptempo

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by uptempo » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:15 am

In my view it happens automatically when you finish plucking because the extending is not so much a deliberate action but a reaction to releasing the energy caused by flexing. In a sense it is the finger or fingers adopting neutral position in relation to where it can given the position of the hand whilst playing.

So even if a player has or seems to have a deeper flexion on plucking it will still return to neutral by inherent extension once that is released. The other issue is one of volume. In order to play at volume it stands that more power needs to be applied and so the flexion will travel deeper into the palm. But if that power/energy is released it will go back. I know it's technically extension but I visualise it and feel it as recoil - like letting go of an elastic band it's opposing force comes into play.

uptempo

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by uptempo » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:29 am

In this video by Denis Azabagic you can see his right hand well at times. To me he seems to have a deeper flexion towards the palm but I know he releases the tension immediately because I had lessons with him. I don't believe most top class players see this as any issue because it's common sense that in order to be efficient you have to let go of that tension. Some players do it without ever giving it a second thought. It's like when my wife got into a swimming pool aged 5 she had an awesome Breast stroke without anyone showing her. She was snapped up by a top club and went onto to swim at very high levels. In fact at her peak one national coach persuaded her to alter her leg kick and it had an extremely detrimental effect from which she never recovered.

I agree though that teachers do in fact give incomplete information and for those who take things a bit too literally, like me, it can be very detrimental.

That's why my signature says it that you should never believe what an artist says, only what an artist does. Translation of technique into language is very difficult, which is now whybI focus on sensory perception rather than mechanically trying to do what others do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YcrGUk ... ture=share

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lagartija
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by lagartija » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:00 pm

uptempo wrote:
Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:15 am
In my view it happens automatically when you finish plucking because the extending is not so much a deliberate action but a reaction to releasing the energy caused by flexing. In a sense it is the finger or fingers adopting neutral position in relation to where it can given the position of the hand whilst playing.

So even if a player has or seems to have a deeper flexion on plucking it will still return to neutral by inherent extension once that is released. The other issue is one of volume. In order to play at volume it stands that more power needs to be applied and so the flexion will travel deeper into the palm. But if that power/energy is released it will go back. I know it's technically extension but I visualise it and feel it as recoil - like letting go of an elastic band it's opposing force comes into play.
This is exactly the sensation I feel at the end of a stroke; the relaxation of muscles which automatically rebound and return the hand to the neutral position over the strings.

Is it the lack of this sensation (and its corresponding relaxation of muscles) that leads to dystonia? Or is it a brain plasticity issue where one part of the brain misconstrues the commands for a blindingly fast sequence as a single gesture with poorly delineated mapping to the motor cortex as to which muscles of which digit are to be engaged in what sequence? The reason I ask is that the cases I've read of those who suffer from dystonia report its appearance after practicing for long hours to increase speed.
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Contreras
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Contreras » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:22 pm

lagartija wrote:
Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:00 pm
I've read of those who suffer from dystonia report its appearance after practicing for long hours to increase speed.
Speed's totally overrated IMO. I prefer to play almost everything on the slow side and focus on tone and musicality. No FD for me.

Also gets me more mileage from my modest repertoire :mrgreen:
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:48 pm

uptempo wrote:
Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:15 am
In my view it happens automatically when you finish plucking because the extending is not so much a deliberate action but a reaction to releasing the energy caused by flexing. In a sense it is the finger or fingers adopting neutral position in relation to where it can given the position of the hand whilst playing.

So even if a player has or seems to have a deeper flexion on plucking it will still return to neutral by inherent extension once that is released. The other issue is one of volume. In order to play at volume it stands that more power needs to be applied and so the flexion will travel deeper into the palm. But if that power/energy is released it will go back. I know it's technically extension but I visualise it and feel it as recoil - like letting go of an elastic band it's opposing force comes into play.
Yes, but the deeper flexion into the palm is from the middle and tip joints, not the large knuckle joint. Of course the large knuckle applies pressure and momentum but that is only happening in front of and on the string then the work gets transferred to the other joints and the MCP extends (or recoils or relaxes if you prefer)

Azabagic teaches to flexion all joints into the palm in his online methods, but you can slow down the videos where he says that and see his fingers are actually doing what I describe.


He engages the string with MCP, but he doesn't really follow through with that movement. Like you say, do what the artist actually does, not what they say they do.

Youtube


Not following through from MCP during actual performance

Youtube
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

soltirefa
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by soltirefa » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:59 pm

I have not read through this entire thread, so apologies if this surgery has already been mentioned.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/health/in ... index.html

Dofpic
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Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:19 am

It has not been mentioned but crazy stuff. Amazing but like a heart ablation.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

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