Upper-Trapezius Pain

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

Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by pilgrim » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:29 am

Hi All,

I'm relatively new to the "classical position" and have been searching this sub-forum for any threads relating to strain on the shoulders and the upper-trap muscles (predominantly on the right) taken in the perspective of a right-handed player. Any accounts or perspectives on this as a problem area as well as some insight to solutions would be most appreciated :)

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lagartija
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Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by lagartija » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:05 am

Do you have a teacher? They could look at your playing position and tell you if you are misaligned as you play.
Or, you could look at yourself in a mirror as you play. You might find you are lifting your right shoulder to move your arm/hand or holding your shoulder up as you play.
Or, you could post a picture or video of yourself as you play so people here can see what the problem might be.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

pilgrim

Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by pilgrim » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:22 pm

Unfortunately, no teacher at present. I considered posting a video for that very reason. I'll post one at some point soon. Thanks!

pilgrim

Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by pilgrim » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:08 pm

Actually, should i post my video on "works in progress"... What would be the most effective way to get feedback on my posture and general technique using a video i just took of my playing? Thanks

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lagartija
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Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by lagartija » Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:41 am

You could post it on youtube and give a link to it here in this thread. Just make sure you are playing something in the public domain and not a modern piece! No direct links to copyright protected material are allowed. :contrat:
The Works in progress section is really for excerpts of a piece that you are working on so people can comment on the musical issues you are having.
Since this is a discussion about pain you are having, best to post here, I think.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

pilgrim

Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by pilgrim » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:04 am

Here's a link to me playing basically the only song i know so: https://vimeo.com/118306141
:casque:

christine33
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Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by christine33 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:39 pm

Hi pilgrim!
as far as I've seen, your pain is caused by alt least 3 problems. I'll put it in the order that I would correct them step by step:

1. Your left shoulder is working very hard, moving a lot. muscle tension in the left shoulder is always spreading/casting forth to the other side.
proposal: I once saw on youtube a masterclass by Pepe Romero. the first what he told to the guitarist was to put down the footstool, - try it out, what's for me, this helped me al lot. and: play very easy pieces so that you can put awareness to relaxing the left shoulder (makingsome Tai Ji or Qi Gong exercises may also help to understand the connection betwwen muscles and the difference tension - relaxing :wink: )

2. Your guitar is not really resting on your upperleg this habit is quite common, cause it "allows" the guitarist to see the whole fretboard. The less your guitar is "resting" the more your right arm is under tension.I bet, your right forearm will achieve another position and another "point of contact" with the guitar.

3. Your right wrist. It looks like you would hold your fingers and the hand with the wrist (like tennis-players). Ithink it would be better to let the hand fall down from the wrist without any tension. In the first position the tension goes via short head biceps up to the shoulder. (the exercises I cannot explain in english, may sombody else can help)

You are playing so nice, it's really worthy to work on your pains. good luck

(ed. it was not Pepe Romero but Julian Bream: s.f. Julian Bream Masterclass 1978: Heitor Villa-Lobos 3 Preludes , 19:30 min.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:29 pm

Yes, your left shoulder is playing with tension and I think the movements in your left hand fingers are a little excessive. It's probably a good idea to leave that piece alone until you can play with much less tension. It doesn't look at all easy on the left hand. Play much simpler pieces with a focus on smooth, minimal left hand finger movements.
Search for 'An Alexander Technique Approach to Classical Guitar Technique' on the big river site. Read the preview. Even if you aren't a great believer in the alexander technique the suggestions/visualisation might free you from some of the tension.

Never play for much more than 15 minutes at a time if you are having such problems. You can always increase the practice time after the problem is solved. Lengthy sessions will only make things much worse. Stop and do some stretches.
These are very good (there are others):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4d2IcKCkMo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt3CpkmFAfc
Historicalguitars.

pilgrim

Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by pilgrim » Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:37 am

thank you for the excellent feedback! I'll definitely follow up on the resources posted. I actually approached violin playing this way when i started back in 2005. I spent endless hours researching everything i could find to develop basic posture and bow technique for violin to avoid strain/ injury, and i guess it didn't occur to me that i should do the same thing for guitar when i picked it back up last year. I played guitar all through my teens and beyond and it was always an instrument i felt at home with, however. Since picking it back up, i have been experimenting more with classical/flamenco and other repertoire which treat the guitar more like a piano (multiple lines, finger style etc); totally new territory for me. On the violin it took me over a year just to attain the beginnings of basic and straight bow strokes using a mirror. That journey was also how I first became familiar with Alexander technique and other ideas that were key in being able to play effectively on advanced pieces with minimal effort -- working very slowly and consciously to build good technique on the guitar is now what i will address. Does anyone have an opinion on abel carlevaro or other authorities on such matters?

shira

Re: Upper-Trapezius Pain

Post by shira » Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:27 am

Upper trapezius pain often comes with poor neck flexor activation. You should be able to make a double chin posture with ease. Another exercise that works well for the upper trapezius would be the brugger exercises, which you can find on youtube quite handily. These should help reset your posture if you have underlying asymmetries. Most probably the lower trapezius is inactive, which causes that upper trap to jack up to hold the shoulder in place.

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