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> What Is Tendonitis? And A Short Comparison Of Guitar And Piano Technique.
post Oct 14 2013, 12:47 PM
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So you read the topic, hopefully you'll find some useful information in this article.

To begin with I'd like to clarify that I'm not a medical expert and if you ask me about specific related injuries and comparisons, I may not have the expertise to comment further. This is what I've found out through an immense interest in ergonomics and especially how it relates to practice of musical instruments.

Starting off with what I think may be the cause of most injuries on guitar and why it isn't as present in other instruments.

Flexor tendonitis also known as "trigger finger" a form of tendonitis which is caused by an inflammed tendon rubbing against the tendon pulley. Repeated actions of this type can cause pains in the palm and fingers.

Guitar players usually experience either flexor tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome(compression of the midian nerve at the wrist). Both of these are caused by inherant guitar player motions and less present in other instruments. The overuse of the Middle Phalanx can be avoided much more easily on a piano for example, where the dominant joint is the proximal phalanx.

Why using the Middle phalanx can be a bad thing?
Often we hear about minimizing movement and some chose to play everything in a "blues/bend" position with the thumb over the fretboard. I believe this can be wrong for several reasons. The parallell I have to draw is with piano technique(since that is my main education with ergonomics in related fields). The middle phalanx has "no" muscles of it's own and is just a joint. It goes as far as to the palm and stops there attatched to the rest of the tendon. Compared to the proximal phalanx which has muscles all the way up the forearm and causes little "movement" in the wrist which could cause rsi or carpal tunnel due to rubbing against the wrist thereby making it swollen and pressing on the medial nerve causing tingeling sensations and loss of bloodflow.

Nick Kellie once described his brush with tendonitis with. "I did a lot of bending with only my fingers(finger tips moving/trigger finger actions)". Similarly other teachers have said how much their hands have hurted after sessions of bending practice when they've not used their entire wrist/arm to do so. Enough for it to be a connection.

There are several skeletal hand structures we try to be aware of in piano playing, to not have your hand overrelaxed cause this will cause your proximal phalanx to collapse making it much more likely to get trigger finger tendonitis(according to Alan Fraiser author of The Craft of Piano Playing and DVDs).

Sometime in the future I may make a more detailed comparison when my knowledge on the subject has deepened more, but for now, even if your fingers are bent, be aware of where the movement is coming from. As Seymour Fink(author of Mastering Piano Technique) say, "each note starts in your shoulders."


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"The only love affair I have ever had was with music." -Maurice Ravel

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Gabriel Leopardi
post Oct 15 2013, 02:36 PM
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Hi Verciazghra, this is a very interesting article. We usually have questions about this, even the other day came a Cirse's fans after a show, to ask me about a pain that she was having on his hands because of guitar playing. I think that it's very important to prevent this and that's why I always recommend to start a guitar session with arms and hands stretches, followed by some Warming up exercises.

Thanks for this thread.

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