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> Hands - How We Use Them
Ben Higgins
post Nov 16 2014, 10:54 AM
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As guitar players our hands are very important to us. If they get injured, we can't play until they're recovered. If they're feeling cold and stiff, we can't play properly or we risk pulling a tendon. So, practically speaking, we need to look after our hands and why wouldn't we ? They're essential to everyday life, not just guitar playing.

But guitar playing requires that our hands be supple.. slender fingers instead of big sausage fingers are 'more ideal'.. battered, weathered, hard worker's hands may not be as suited to dancing around the neck as some young Berklee graduate's dainty little digits. Or is that really the case ?

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People need to work to put food on the table. Sometimes it's hard, physical labour that's not particularly 'musician's hands friendly' but that's life. It's not just a case of necessity either. Sometimes we just want to do things that are very different and more physical than playing a musical instrument. Perhaps we want to go rock climbing ? Sailing ? Learn to be a blacksmith ? Be a mechanic ?

So many times in my life I've been told 'Watch out for your hands'. I understand the sentiment but where do you draw the line ? You've got to live and living requires using what we've got, right ? Who wants to wrap themselves up in cotton wool and never do anything else for fear that they may hurt their hands ? As long as we apply common sense and are not self destructive then there's no reason why we can't do other things that require much more rugged use of our hands. Avoiding doing anything else for fear of your hands is surely paranoia ?

I'm genuinely interested in how you guys approach this so please share your thoughts.

Have you guys ever come across the concept that our hands adapt and shape themselves according to the activities we ask of it ?

If you ever look at the hands of a farmer or fisherman they won't look like anything like the hands of Steve Vai. Our hands really do adapt to what we ask of them. Yet with this in mind, we can be drawn into duality thinking. We can end up thinking that if we want to be a musician then our hands must be reserved only for the soft not the hard. Yet I believe we can shape them to do both. I think there is a practical limit to the levels of physical hardship that you put your hands through and the level of musical dexterity you may achieve as a result but I'll leave that to you guys to add your thoughts as to why that could be.

I think this could be a really interesting discussion, given your different hobbies and work backgrounds. What do we think about all this ?


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Ben Higgins
post Nov 17 2014, 10:02 AM
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Wow, no replies ?? I guess it must have been a Sunday thing biggrin.gif

C'mon there's loads of different backgrounds and work / life experiences that you guys have got to add to this topic so don't be shy - I think this is a really interesting topic that musicians don't talk about often, if at all.


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wrk
post Nov 17 2014, 11:00 AM
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Nice topic!! .. reminds me of some experiences when i was young and quite serious about guitar and always worried about my hands.

I was still in school, but had a sort of internship in a company who did wood work like building stairs or windows. One day i was completely exited because for the evening i had tickets to finally see Yngwie live. I waited months for this gig, but during that day my task was to glue wood together and fix them with clamps ... all by hand. I had blisters everywhere afterwards and thought my hands will never recover from that smile.gif … on the evening i was standing in front of the hall and there they told me the gig got canceled for some reasons. This was for me the most horrible day ever .. LOL

Later i had a side job for a CD and video tape distributor to unpack boxes and label CD’s for different shops in the area. I was mainly playing acoustic and classical guitar in this time and all way worries were to not break my nails of my right hand. To protect them i used to glue thin layers of paper tissue with super glue on my nails … i guess i was crazy obsessed about my hands when i was young smile.gif

As you said, at the end we have to live from something.






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Bogdan Radovic
post Nov 17 2014, 12:27 PM
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I'll admit that I always stayed away from things that could potentially injure my hands. When I started playing the guitar, I was already playing tennis quite seriously and I figured that to enjoy both of those activities, I need to take care of my hands (and arms smile.gif ). This meant that I would essentially avoid sport activities that could potentially hurt my hands. For example basketball would always hurt my fingers somehow when receiving the ball and not catching it properly so the ball hits my finger straight and tucks it inside. Several years back, I got the crazy idea of learning how to ice skate from scratch with zero experience. I really enjoyed the activity but it did prove my point: I managed to fall and hurt my right wrist - just before the gig smile.gif It somehow healed but I had to skip rehearsals etc. I still continued to ice skate years after that (I made a pause for few years due to incident) but I'm always aware of the risk in the back of my head.

I do think that avoiding certain things just for the sake of "what if" is not a good approach as one would miss out a lot of great experiences. In the end, its just a compromise and one needs to be as responsible in his choices and if something happens than so be it. I mean, one can hurt his hands in most unexpected ways so why be bothered and miss out.


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klasaine
post Nov 17 2014, 04:05 PM
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I am not that careful with my hands ... and consequently I've broken 3 fingers over the years as well as cut myself fairly regularly.
I work around my house and in my little garden and I play ball with my kid. Cest la vie.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 17 2014, 05:57 PM


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llibach
post Nov 18 2014, 12:39 AM
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I've never been overly concerned about looking after my hands. Sure it's always a bummer if you injure yourself, but in my opinion it's got to be a severe injury to stop you playing for good.
I played rugby seriously for years and had my share of bruised fingers from them getting caught in shirts, hands being stamped and one permanent injury which is a split tendon on one finger (I think that's what the doctor called it anyway) which slightly limits my finger mobility but nothing much.
But a few months ago we had a gig at night and during the afternoon I was working in the field next to the house setting a border with stones when i dropped one on my index finger. Thought I was ok then gradually it started to swell to the point where I could barely move it.
Still played the gig with 3 fingers so had to drop any solos I had but we got through it ok.
As i said earlier unless it's a severe injury you'll always recover and be able to play another day, just look at Django Reinhart, Toni Iommi and one of saxons guitarists (can't remember his name now).

This post has been edited by llibach: Nov 18 2014, 12:40 AM
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Ben Higgins
post Nov 18 2014, 10:14 AM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Nov 17 2014, 12:27 PM) *
I do think that avoiding certain things just for the sake of "what if" is not a good approach as one would miss out a lot of great experiences. In the end, its just a compromise and one needs to be as responsible in his choices and if something happens than so be it.


Yeah I think compromise is definitely a key word here. You've made me think of a counter argument to my original post:

When we dedicate ourselves to something, we sign a kind of 'unwritten contract'. So if one wanted to be great at an instrument, they have to understand that they should be prepared to make sacrifices.

We could say that one of these sacrifices is that we should be prepared to avoid and / or miss out on certain activities in order to look after our hands. I guess that we all do that to some degree ??

I wouldn't train to become a butcher, for example. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Nov 18 2014, 10:14 AM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 18 2014, 12:01 PM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Nov 17 2014, 11:27 AM) *
I'll admit that I always stayed away from things that could potentially injure my hands. When I started playing the guitar, I was already playing tennis quite seriously and I figured that to enjoy both of those activities, I need to take care of my hands (and arms smile.gif ). This meant that I would essentially avoid sport activities that could potentially hurt my hands. For example basketball would always hurt my fingers somehow when receiving the ball and not catching it properly so the ball hits my finger straight and tucks it inside. Several years back, I got the crazy idea of learning how to ice skate from scratch with zero experience. I really enjoyed the activity but it did prove my point: I managed to fall and hurt my right wrist - just before the gig smile.gif It somehow healed but I had to skip rehearsals etc. I still continued to ice skate years after that (I made a pause for few years due to incident) but I'm always aware of the risk in the back of my head.

I do think that avoiding certain things just for the sake of "what if" is not a good approach as one would miss out a lot of great experiences. In the end, its just a compromise and one needs to be as responsible in his choices and if something happens than so be it. I mean, one can hurt his hands in most unexpected ways so why be bothered and miss out.


That makes two of us, to some extent smile.gif I stay away from winter sports, but on the other hand I can skate and rollerskate almost at pro level, due to the many years spent doing this as a kid. I don't have any fear of falling or so, while skating, but skiing - that's another story which I don't want to read laugh.gif

Otherwise, let's see:

- Computer work - since a lot of my activities are centered around the PC, I am trying to take breaks and not spend hours in a row tyoing, while trying to keep my hands suspended and not raised upwards while typing and 'mousing'
- Fencing - when working on speed, I always wear my kote - proection gloves that keep my hands safe from hits
- when cutting, I am extremely careful, as I have seen a lot of nasty cuts and even lost fingers when people were not focused
- Body weight training - there are a lot of positions in which the hands are subjected to stress and strain, that's why I needto warm up properly and not exagerrate anything. If I don't feel 100% confident that I can execute a move in full control, I will not do it, until I can.

These are prettu much the only activities that may damage my hands and wrists if I am not careful smile.gif

This post has been edited by Cosmin Lupu: Nov 18 2014, 12:02 PM


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AK Rich
post Nov 19 2014, 06:50 PM
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While I have tried to be careful not to injure my hands in anything I do, I can't say that I have avoided activities which could potentially damage them, except for playing silly and risky type games like spreading your hand out on a table and seeing how fast you can stick a knife down between your fingers or something like that. unsure.gif. Working in the construction trade most of my life, and being extremely active with different sports (especially in my younger days) like basketball, football, baseball, snowboarding, skateboarding and many others, I guess I have been pretty lucky to have never damaged them significantly enough to stop me from enjoying playing guitar. At least not for any extended time.
The bottom line I guess is, that I love to play guitar, but I am not for a moment going to let it stop me from doing other things I love or need to do to keep the lights on and put food on the table.


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