Pain in left arm normal?

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Gus C

Pain in left arm normal?

Post by Gus C » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:02 am

Hi Folks,

I play normally about 3 hours per day. A mixture of scales, exercises and songs.

I expect as i stretch myself to improve my playing that my arms/fingers may ache a little at the time and for a short time afterward, however, the ache in the left forearm and across the back of my left hand is often there when i have not played guitar for hours.

Dont get me wrong this isnt intolerable pain more just a dull ache as if you had just been playing for a while.

Normal?

Thanks :)

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Vesuvio
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Post by Vesuvio » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:11 am

I don't think having a dull ache when you are not playing is normal. There is always a risk of RSI with intensive practice. Perhaps you should spend some time reflecting on your posture and the way you use your arms and hands—get another guitarist to watch you for a half an hour, we don't always see what we are doing ourselves. It might be a good idea to make sure you do other things with those muscles. Try swimming.

Have a look at "The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless Playing" by Lee F. Ryan. There is a lot of advice in here which emphasises as relaxed physical approach and shows how you can play with less muscular effort.

CGC

Post by CGC » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:35 pm

I was getting soreness in my right arm a while back. I cut back on my practice time and started taking small breaks during my practice. This really made a difference especially on really long pieces. Splitting up your practice is great too. One session in the a.m. One in the p.m. I have Lee Ryan's book as well and highly recommend it!
:D

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Vesuvio
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Post by Vesuvio » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:44 pm

Yes, I do think soreness like Flak describes should be taken seriously. I had an RSI type of elbow problem brought on by rock climbing when I was younger, lighter, fitter, stronger etc. That took three years to sort out and finished the climbing off. Take it easy, Flak.

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TomPage
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Post by TomPage » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:56 pm

I think soreness in the left forearem means you are using those muscles to the point of fatigue and cramps. Those muscles are such large strong muscles that it should be very hard to fatigue and cramp them in the course of playing with good technique. My best guess is that you are not coming down on the strings with the very tips of your fingers. When you use your finger tips, the weight of your arm does almost all of the work of fretting the notes. Then you don't use the tips, the forearm muscles get recruited.
Tom

Gus C

Post by Gus C » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:51 pm

Hi Folks,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to me over this. I think i will give my guitar playing a rest for a week. Get this book you have recomended, look for a teacher to check my posture and technique.

I do swim or excercise in the gym daily, i do play on the tips of my fingers, if this persists i think it will be a trip to the Dr.

Gus C

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by Gus C » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:16 pm

Thought I would share and update this in the off chance anyone else suffers a problem like this.....

Over the last 6 months I decided I best rest my arm as this pain was not subsiding. The few Doctors I had seen over the last few years about this seemed to be clueless as to the cause.

Around 2 months ago not in addition to the left forearm pain my left shoulder began to ache and the muscles became very tense. My Doctor sent me for x rays which revealed that it wasn't an issue with my bones.

The shoulder pain steadily got worse to the point where the mobility of my left arm was compromised and driving became an issue.

Ultimately a Doctor in A and E took a look at me and suggested the problem was a trapped nerve (ulnar arterial nerve). I was sent of for a course of physiotherapy (bloody painful!).

The good news is with all the stretching exersises the pains are gone! I will keep up the stretching exercises.

Its amazing how rusty my playing has become over the time I rested, although I like to think positively and hope that it may serve to rest some bad habits in my playing permanently.

Wishing you all a fantastic new year.

Angus.

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Vesuvio
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Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by Vesuvio » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:24 pm

Hi Angus,

Delighted to hear you are able to play pain free again!

Take good care of yourself,

Happy New Year, V :D
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith

AsturiasFan

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by AsturiasFan » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:10 am

It looks like the issue is resolved, but I need to get a post in which is now only partially relevant. It is my understanding that if one is practicing a lot of bar chords correctly, one may very well feel the effects in the forearm. This is Douglass Niedt's opinion which turned out to be be the case for me.

nylonthanh

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by nylonthanh » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:34 am

Gus C wrote:Thought I would share and update this in the off chance anyone else suffers a problem like this.....

Over the last 6 months I decided I best rest my arm as this pain was not subsiding. The few Doctors I had seen over the last few years about this seemed to be clueless as to the cause.

Around 2 months ago not in addition to the left forearm pain my left shoulder began to ache and the muscles became very tense. My Doctor sent me for x rays which revealed that it wasn't an issue with my bones.

The shoulder pain steadily got worse to the point where the mobility of my left arm was compromised and driving became an issue.

Ultimately a Doctor in A and E took a look at me and suggested the problem was a trapped nerve (ulnar arterial nerve). I was sent of for a course of physiotherapy (bloody painful!).

The good news is with all the stretching exersises the pains are gone! I will keep up the stretching exercises.

Its amazing how rusty my playing has become over the time I rested, although I like to think positively and hope that it may serve to rest some bad habits in my playing permanently.

Wishing you all a fantastic new year.

Angus.
I've been going through similar problems for the past year and it's quite difficult. For anyone starting to play guitar, please ease into your regiment of guitar playing since it is very physical... think about a normal person that tries to run a marathon... their body hates them for it. I've been in physical therapy for a while and stretches and massage are my best ally!!! and ICE!! I ice up 3-5 times a day depending how much I play (I also teach...).

The footstool was one problem and my posture was another problem. Those have been corrected but I now have a shoulder impingement which means more physical therapy.

I'm glad things went well for you!!

Dante

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by Dante » Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:32 am

Angus - Do you have information on the type of physical therapy /stretches you were doing to help the forearm pain? I am having the same problem; finding trigger points that massage is helping somewhat, but progress is slow and PAINFUL...

Any guidance you can offered be greatly appreciated!

Gus C

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by Gus C » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:10 pm

Hi,

Hope this description of the two stretches that were most helpful for me works for you, but if I were you I would seek out the guidance of a qualified physio. What worked for me might not be the thing for you.

1) Stand straight arms by your side palms facing to the rear. bend your wrists as far up as you can so the palms are moving toward the back of your shoulder... keep your left shoulder low and tilt your head to the right as far from your lowered left shoulder as possible... keep your chin close to your body so you can look down slightly.... turn your left hand so your fingers point to the left and hold this stretch for 10 ... repeat about 10 times. I chose to repeat this exercise in reverse to stretch the right side too.

2) Stand or sit up straight head facing forward chin up as if standing to attention. Keep your head level during this exercise. Fix your eyes on a point level with them don't look down or tilt your head and now move your head backward forcing a double chin. You should feel this stretching at the back of your neck and you might feel a choking sensation too.
Hold this for the count of 10 and repeat this 10 times.

My physio advised to do these as often as possible.

These worked for me. They were painful for quite a while but I could feel the benefit of these stretches quickly. In addition to this I had regular massage as the muscles around my neck and shoulders would often go into knots.

I am still doing these stretches once or twice a day just to be sure I don't have a re occurrence.

Good luck and I hope the explanations are clear.

Angus.

nylonthanh

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by nylonthanh » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:35 pm

awesome stretches Angus! I find stretching the traps in addition to the neck help as well as the supra spinitus (rotator cuff) help as well. Ever wonder why the ergonomic industry is making so much money? Here's your reason!

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GEO
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Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by GEO » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:48 pm

Just as a warning for all of us: undue tension may be behind a lot of these aches and pains. You can, perhaps, deal with the pain with reduced playing time, ice, physical therapy, etc, but playing with tension will degrade the musicality of your playing--even when you're playing pain free.

Watch good guitarists play, particularly noticing the fluid and easy motion their hands make and the balanced posture they have. Then, play for yourself in front of a full-length mirror. If your hands don't have that fluid motion, you may have a tension problem. And, if they look stiff, like lobster claws, then you definitely have a problem.

Tension is one of those things that is very common among musicians and something that usually goes unnoticed. So, keep an eye on it, along with reducing any pains that you might have. :sage:

geo
(US) (GER) The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own - Disraeli

nylonthanh

Re: Pain in left arm normal?

Post by nylonthanh » Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:33 am

great advice geo!!! Even better yet, video tape your self... most dig cams have that function and even phones. I saw of a pic of me playing at a coffee house a while ago and it looked like I was about to fall over!!! Pic = 100 words... video= more :)

But also to note, even the best also deal with tension in other parts of the body... obviously not all, but if the best deal with it I'm sure other do too, so don't feel bad!

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