Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
DuanePitre
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Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:23 pm

Hey everyone,

I've been playing classical guitar for almost three months now. I'm currently am looking for a teacher, but have been self-studying so far. I realize having a teacher would likely prevent me from having the stated problems below...

I've experimented (A LOT) with getting proper right-arm positioning. About a month into my studies my wrist would hurt from time-to-time, due to improper right-arm positioning. But for the past month or so it seems I'd come to a good positioning for my right arm and wrist (based on many videos and books). But for the past two days several parts of my right arm are experiencing some pain throughout my day (like right now at work....I work with computers...which may be lending to this problem as well).

The pain is in my forearm, what seems to be the tendons (?), a little in my wrist (which I can mildly crack sometimes), and some in my lower palm, around my thumb muscle. One thing I've noticed lately is that I may be placing most of my finger movement from my middle finger joints (though my hand position seems to be correct, as far as all I've seen and read). That said, surely my upper (?) joints are doing some of the work too....but I've heard some people say most or all movement should be from the upper (larger) joints (knuckles) Can this cause pain when playing too much like this? I do have my hand in what seems to be an acceptable position...but I thought it might be because of the joint I'm using for the movement.

And lastly, I play about 90 minutes a day. And of course all the typing at work (web programming).

Just thought someone might be able to shed some light on this form me.....like for instance ("your arm is sore because it's getting used to be worked out so much).

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Duane

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by Erik Zurcher » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:26 pm

Taking a break every 15 minutes might help.
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DuanePitre
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:34 pm

...and I should state that when playing rest strokes and such, I'm moving from the larger joint/knuckle. But it's when I play arpeggios (and the like) that I'm using that middle joint/knuckle more so. Though maybe this is normal?

Thanks again

DuanePitre
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:35 pm

Thanks, Erik. I kind of figured this might be the case. But without having a teacher (yet), I feel I'm in the dark and don't want to go down a path that will cause me some damage

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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:43 pm

oh, and Erik, how long of a break would you recommend that I take (after each 15 min "session")?

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by Erik Zurcher » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:49 pm

At least 5 minutes. The longer you practise, the longer the breaks.
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"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

DuanePitre
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:51 pm

Ah, I understand. So after each 15 min mini-session, increase the length of the breaks...which makes sense seeing that the muscles are getting used more and more throughout the overall practice session of the day.

thanks much

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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by markodarko » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:52 pm

Hi Duane, I'm sorry to hear about your wrist arm/wrist/palm pain. Without seeing your hand position (unless you can upload a photo / youtube clip?), and assuming that your hand position is correct, this could be due to not relaxing.

If you're tense when you play then things are going to start hurting pretty quickly - and that goes for both right and left arms/wrists. Next time you're sat with the guitar in the playing position - but not playing anything - consciously focus on whether you are relaxed. Start with your shoulders - if they're tense they'll be raised, then your back - if it's twisted you'll be tensing to keep it in that position, then work your way down all your muscles from your shoulder > elbow > forearm > wrist > fingers and concentrate on relaxing.

If your hand is indeed in the correct position then it will be in that position now when you're entire arm, shoulder and back are relaxed - if you have to hold it in a position then you are not in the correct position because you won't be relaxed.

So, assuming you ARE relaxed, play a slow P-A-M-I arpeggio on the first 4 strings using free strokes. Are you relaxed? Every movement should be a relaxed movement. If it's not then you are going to be in pain. If you ARE relaxed and you're still in pain then chances are you've already caused some damage to your tendons and the best thing you can do for the time being is to not play with your right arm until the pain subsides. If you're getting pain away from the guitar then that's probably the case. Make no mistake though, if you try and play THROUGH this pain, you could cause worse injury and cause your recovery to be longer.

For the next few days try not to play with your right arm and instead concentrate on your left hand work - hammer-ons and pull-offs and the like.

Additionally, if you use a mouse all day long in your day job then I'd advise swapping it to your left hand. It'll be weird at first but you soon get used to it - you'll be surprised at how much more your right arm will be rested by not using the mouse.

Similarly, if you can, try changing your left-right tasks round for a few weeks. Things like opening doors, brushing your teeth and such like - instead of using your right hand, use your left.

Doing small things like that can speed up your recovery so you can get back onto the guitar quicker.

I hope that helps,

Mark.
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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by Erik Zurcher » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:56 pm

The best advice I can give: find yourself a proper teacher. He/she will correct your posture and, above all, teach you how to study efficiently.
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"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

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petermc61
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by petermc61 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:02 pm

If you are experiencing any pain as well as seeking technical advice your must back off your playing time and take more breaks until that pain goes away. You cannot 'play through the pain' and think it will just get better. Many a person has tried that and found the consequences far worse.

Listen to your body.

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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by Pat Dodson » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:38 pm

petermc61 wrote:If you are experiencing any pain as well as seeking technical advice your must back off your playing time and take more breaks until that pain goes away. You cannot 'play through the pain' and think it will just get better. Many a person has tried that and found the consequences far worse.

Listen to your body.
As one who foolishly did' play through the pain' I second the advice above. And if things don't then improve after a few days, or quickly worsen again when you step things up, then do seek medical/physio advice.

Good luck

Quinne

Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by Quinne » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:04 am

DuanePitre wrote:...and I should state that when playing rest strokes and such, I'm moving from the larger joint/knuckle. But it's when I play arpeggios (and the like) that I'm using that middle joint/knuckle more so. Though maybe this is normal?

Thanks again
You should always move from your large knuckle. When you're moving from your smaller knuckles, you're using a different muscle group, which happens to be the wrong one. Practice doing free strokes from your large knuckle. Exaggerate it so you understand the right muscle group, you want to have it so your fingers can slap your palm. Obviously you won't want to always slap your palm, but it's a good way to get the motion down.

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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by DuanePitre » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:46 pm

Thanks so much for you replies (Erik, Peter, Pat, Quinne ... and Mark, for your lengthy one). This helps, for sure. I am the kind of person who wants to play even though I'm hurting some....but Yesterday I didnt' touch the guitar at all (which is a surprise for me!) and this morning I only played for 5 minutes (couldn't help myself, ha). All joking aside though, I'm going to not touch the guitar until all soreness goes away.

Quinne. Thanks for your bit. This morning when playing for 5 minutes, it was to see if playing form the large knuckles would be odd for me....indeed it was. My palm is certainly not close to the soundboard, and my wrist only has a natural slight arch to it. But I don't see how I can move from the large knuckle without hitting all the strings. Doesn't seem right. :?

Once I'm healed I'll watch some more videos on the subject and make it a fact to practice this proper method and try to make it work.

Thanks!

Duane

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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by ronjazz » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:49 pm

Use both large and middle joints, in the same direction. Moving from either without including the other is inefficient at best. The large knuckle carries the finger to the string, the middle knuckle executes the stroke, in very general terms.
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Re: Pain in right arm/wrist/palm

Post by ronjazz » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:53 pm

If you don't have them, please get either/and the Shearer "Learning the Classic Guitar" Book1 or "Mastering Guitar Technique and Essence" by Chris Berg. Read them both with great attention; they both will give you a better understanding of how things work. The Berg book is positively inspirational before you even play a note.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

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