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> The Physicality Of A Guitarist, Preventing injury and staying in guitar shape
Ben Higgins
post Dec 21 2014, 10:40 AM
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I had a really interesting chat with a guy on Youtube about rehabilitation from physical injuries, namely RSI. This is something which plagues many musicians, not least us guitar players. This is something I've unfortunately got experience of and I know Todd can tell you all about the crap he went through to be able to play again. I'm sure a lot of you have also encountered it either through guitar playing or non guitar related activity.

The upshot of the convo was that we were talking about physical exercises to balance out and strengthen the different muscle groups. So this would involve, among other things, exercises that use a pulling motion to balance out the repetitive, arms forward, back rounded position that we can adopt when playing guitar or using the computer for long periods of time.

The lifters and gym goers among us can no doubt add more to this topic regarding the effectiveness of certain exercises (Bleez, PosterBoy..) and it would be enlightening to know if any of you have noticed any differences / improvements to your overall posture / guitar playing as a result of having a more balanced muscular structure ?

Another aspect of the conversation I had was that there is no real 'sports science' type of knowledge relating to maintaining a healthy, balanced physicality to counteract the potential overuse of particular muscles for guitar playing. Most of this stuff we have to discover by ourselves, often after we've already injured something. Some of it may seem like common sense (exercising = healthy, duh !) but really it's not necessarily THAT obvious is it ? I mean, nobody approaches a musical instrument with the mindset of an Olympic lifter. We don't need to destroy the instrument, we want to play it ! So any musician could be forgiven for thinking that it's not a particularly physical task that they're engaging in, right ?

Anyone who's been playing guitar long enough or hung around these forums knows that one of the most basic things everyone advocates is relaxation. To avoid tensing unnecessarily. But this in itself won't avoid an overuse injury. I'm sure we all know what it's like to play for too long after you've already tired your arms and hands out. Those practise days where you're making progress and you just don't want to put it down. But these are prime times for encouraging an overuse injury. If it's something like a strained tendon in the fingers then that can be very nasty and the immediate remedy is to cease that activity for the foreseeable future and then began a slow process of rehab... nobody wants that. There's a story out there from Troy Stetina about screwing up a tendon in his finger when attempting some particularly stretchy movements without being properly warmed up and it's not a nice read. (Not being inspired to practise guitar sucks but not being able to play the guitar went you want to because you can't is infinitely worse.)

But tendon injuries are usually (and please anybody correct me if I'm wrong - the more we know, the better) to do with overuse when cold and / or a movement that is just beyond the body's current capabilities. It's not necessarily related to muscle overuse and under development. So what I'm talking about is not so much those sudden tendon injuries but the muscular overuse type of injuries. RSI is technically an injury to the tendons as well because they become inflamed (oversimplification) but it's not the sudden 'snap' type of injury that I was talking of earlier.

My post here is not really an informative post, more like a 'What do you guys think ?' post. An opportunity for us to share experiences and info relating to exercises that have helped you avoid getting injured (or maybe they haven't ?). As I said before, there's no institution that does this research for us, it's actually down to us, the players. We're the pioneers here so..... ummm.... let's... err.... pioneer wink.gif


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klasaine
post Dec 21 2014, 03:55 PM
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The Alexander Technique has been used by musicians for years in rehabilitation and posture maintenance. Also, all the exercises that dancers do for their small muscles work great for instrumentalists. If you ever need to go to a chiropractor or a masseuse, find one that specializes in ballet dancers. It helped me deal with some neck and forearm pain/debilitation.

Alexander technique ... http://www.alexandertechnique.com/musicians.htm
https://www.google.com/search?q=the+alexand...-8&oe=utf-8

This post has been edited by klasaine: Dec 21 2014, 04:10 PM


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Darius Wave
post Dec 21 2014, 04:25 PM
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Cool topic Ben. Seems like our social observators can make us think about much more topics relate to playing, not necessary being straight about the guitar smile.gif I had my right hand wrist broken twice and almost broken for the 3rd time. Yet i was lucky enough to not need any medical care to get back to good condition of my right hand. I think that guitar in this case was cure itself.


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Ben Higgins
post Dec 21 2014, 06:04 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Dec 21 2014, 03:55 PM) *
The Alexander Technique has been used by musicians for years in rehabilitation and posture maintenance. Also, all the exercises that dancers do for their small muscles work great for instrumentalists. If you ever need to go to a chiropractor or a masseuse, find one that specializes in ballet dancers. It helped me deal with some neck and forearm pain/debilitation.

Alexander technique ... http://www.alexandertechnique.com/musicians.htm
https://www.google.com/search?q=the+alexand...-8&oe=utf-8


AH, very interesting - I can see that I'll be doing some reading !! biggrin.gif

QUOTE (Darius Wave @ Dec 21 2014, 04:25 PM) *
I had my right hand wrist broken twice and almost broken for the 3rd time. Yet i was lucky enough to not need any medical care to get back to good condition of my right hand. I think that guitar in this case was cure itself.


Ouch ! Duuuuuuuuuuuude, where you a skate boarder or something ?? tongue.gif


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Darius Wave
post Dec 21 2014, 06:51 PM
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Actually I was just a regular kid who played football/soccer on the playground biggrin.gif Seems like being a goal keeper is not best place for an instrument player biggrin.gif But that was the second time. First time I've simple slipped form the swing tongue.gif


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fkalich
post Dec 22 2014, 12:13 AM
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I learned long ago that if you have tension anywhere in your body, you will have it everywhere. For example I try to keep my free fingers on my picking hand relaxed, loose, not curled up. When I notice some tension in that hand and relax it, I also notice that my left fretting hand also tends to relax as well, even though I was just thinking about my right hand.

Thanks. I looked at that link and it seemed like one can learn some useful things there, I look forward to checking it out later when I have some time.

QUOTE (klasaine @ Dec 21 2014, 09:55 AM) *
The Alexander Technique has been used by musicians for years in rehabilitation and posture maintenance. Also, all the exercises that dancers do for their small muscles work great for instrumentalists. If you ever need to go to a chiropractor or a, find one that specializes in ballet dancers. It helped me deal with some neck and forearm pain/debilitation.

Alexander technique ... http://www.alexandertechnique.com/musicians.htm
https://www.google.com/search?q=the+alexand...-8&oe=utf-8


edit: spelling

This post has been edited by fkalich: Dec 22 2014, 01:30 AM
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Arpeggio
post Jan 1 2015, 11:16 PM
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QUOTE (fkalich @ Dec 22 2014, 12:13 AM) *
I learned long ago that if you have tension anywhere in your body, you will have it everywhere.


True, and applies to nerve mobility too e.g. the median nerve goes all the way from your neck down to your fingers. If you play too much and your hand starts feeling numb then the surrounding tissue tension might be impinging on the nerve. If the nerve is impinged at the shoulder it can contribute to loss of sensation in the arm / hand.

The ligaments in the fingers go all the way to the elbows, so when I stretch my hands / fingers I keep my arm outward straight while doing so for a fuller stretch. Stretching the hand / fingers with bent elbow would not give as fuller stretch on the whole ligament (although I do that too for more specific stretches)

The best thing I did was to get a HIIT timer (designed for high intensity interval training) and set it to 10 mins then 2 mins, 10 mins 2 mins etc. I practise in the 10 mins and rest in the 2 mins. The physio professionals say a musician should not practise constantly for more than 20 mins. Often people will play and play and it's hard to discipline yourself when you are enjoying it.


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