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#1383832 - 02/27/10 04:14 AM Taking breaks when praticing?
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Hi, it's only natural after 3 months of torturing my hands that they finally gave up. My hands hurt a bit and I'm taking 3 days off for that reason to see if they will get better. It's day 2 and they are getting a bit worse to be honest. It's not unbearable but mostly annoying. I was reading about piano injuries and the article said I should practice for 30 mins then take a short break and then continue. What I did so far was practice for 2 hours non-stop because I was so concentrated and I think that combined with too much effort and trying too difficult pieces has taken its toll. I can only hope that I haven't done any permanent injury to my hands because then I'd have to stop practicing piano altogether...

So how do you deal with that? Do you take breaks when practicing or do you keep on working no matter what? I was making so much progress and I wanted to practice more and more each day, ignoring my sore hands.


Edited by Teodor (02/27/10 04:19 AM)
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#1383834 - 02/27/10 04:23 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
Rui725 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 953
What part of the hand is hurting? What movement causes the pain? Is it an acute pain or its something that just lingers? I practice for long hours as well, but I do take breaks every hour or so.

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#1383841 - 02/27/10 04:53 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Rui725]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria


I don't think I'm playing wrong. I don't feel pain when I am playing only when not playing. I feel no tension in my hands. Here is how they look when I play: (watch the first 60 seconds)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i18Oe9NCFT0

I can feel the pain from time to time, it's not acute pain but rather lingering and it's not all of the time. It appears for 1-2 secs then goes away. Mainly after I move my hand around a bit. Also only my right arm hurts. Right now none of them hurt but it's random maybe in 5 mins I will feel it again. I think cold weather is making it worse, I walked in the cold with no protection during the winter which might have contributed together with the piano practice.

I can feel slight pain in the thumb in the marked area when doing long arpeggios or chords. It's small enough to ignore but it makes me worried because it might get more complicated. I'm only 22 but that doesn't mean I can't have such pains apparently :S

Also the 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers I've broken 5 years ago but there is no pain there.


Edited by Teodor (02/27/10 05:45 AM)
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#1383848 - 02/27/10 05:55 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
A couple of suggestions - wear gloves in cold weather and be more careful with your hands doing non pianistic things. Pianists' hands are more vulnerable to nonpianistic injuries than most people's because the flexibility one developes comes at a price. The facts that this is in only one hand and that it doesn't hurt when you play make me think it might have been caused by something besides your practice. The fact that it's worse after not practicing may mean that your practice was keeping it from stiffening up. Blood flow to an area of injury helps with the pain and with healing. The only time I managed to hurt myself by practicng too much it definitely hurt when I played. I'd suggest you post this on Pianist Corner as well with some title like "Hand Injury from Practicing too much?" and see what advice they give you. (I know they'll tell you to see a doctor, at least some of them will, not realizing that all of us aren't in the position to see someone who specializes in hand injuries.)
As for breaks I usually practice two hours in the morning and one or two in the evening and I take a break every 20-30 minutes, usually right here. In between the morning and afternoon sessions I'm at work, using my hands but in different ways.
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#1383850 - 02/27/10 06:05 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: -Frycek]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
I also went to the gym but don't know if that is related. But I did do something very stupid, I did a few pushups using only fingers instead the palm of the hands and the fingers... That contributed to the pain I guess.


Edited by Teodor (02/27/10 06:08 AM)
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#1383853 - 02/27/10 06:16 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Probably.
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#1383859 - 02/27/10 06:51 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: -Frycek]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Yeah, I kind of found the reason then... I have to be more careful from now on.
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#1383860 - 02/27/10 07:18 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Just remember, fingers don't actually have any muscles in them.
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#1383866 - 02/27/10 07:52 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: -Frycek]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
There is a happy medium that falls between rushing off to a specialist at every little twinge, and self-treating exclusively by advice from strangers on a website.

My personal experience is that for pains that are not too bad, most doctors will say, "Whatever you're doing that makes it hurt, don't do it anymore... and let's see how it goes."

So, following that, I'd try giving my hands a break to heal up, and lay off the military presses for awhile. Complete inactivity is less helpful than moderate activity that doesn't make the pain worse. If you are torturing your hands while practicing, don't torture them any more--- what else can you expect but that they will give out, sooner or later. Here, too, there's a happy medium to be found.

If this doesn't clear up after, say, two or three weeks, or becomes alarmingly worse, it might make sense to see your regular doc for an evaluation.

Good luck with it, Teodor--- hope your hand feels better soon.
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#1383870 - 02/27/10 08:14 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
CebuKid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1176
Does anyone think that pain might have something to do with piano endurance? I remember when I first started piano again 17 months ago, I felt pain mainly after "marathon" practice sessions. However, back then, my technique was worse than it is now, and I had limited "piano endurance". For example, I couldn't play all 4 strains of The Entertainer without hurting.

Thank goodness for the last 6 months, I've been pain free regardless of length of session. I get tired, but don't experience pain and discomfort.

Some factors might've been (this is only my theory):

1.) My wrist position has improved somewhat (they're higher). I used to have a bad habit of a low wrist position which I've since tried to correct. (thank you, Piano Forum)...

2.) Eliminate or minimize tension. This is something that I constantly remind myself of, but still guilty of tensing up at times.

3.) Maybe better piano endurance due to sheer length of exerpience. (a 17 month veteran...lol)

I'm at the point now where I can play pieces back-to-back.

One time, I tried playing piano after a full day of manual labor around the house and felt fatigued which led to tension. That said, going to the gym before playing might've been a factor. Also, Teodor, maybe this pain will go away the more time you spend at the piano (like it did for me).
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#1383884 - 02/27/10 08:53 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: CebuKid]
HomeInMyShoes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 495
I'd also suggest watching the pieces that start the soreness. Even after years I find some pieces are just beyond my hands' flexibility so they can cause soreness even when I think I can play them reasonably relaxed. I often put those pieces away for a few months and work on other things and see how the hands feel about them later on.

Take breaks while practicing itself. Stretch them, flex them. Take a five minute brain and hand break if you are practicing for long periods > 30 minutes every now and then.

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#1383914 - 02/27/10 10:14 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: HomeInMyShoes]
al-mahed Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 769
Loc: Rio de Janeiro
You should consider swiming instead of workout on the gyn. Judging by the picture of your hand the cause was the presses you did. You MUST do some hands and foreams stretch during the day to prevent these injuries and improve your flexibility and the muscles that controls the fingers.

As you live in a country with very cold weather this time of the year gloves are important most of the time and perhaps could be usefull to warm your hands with hot watter before your piano practice.

But most important, if I were you I'll certanly take some days off of practice, since you can injury seriously your hands if you keep going.

Try to stretch smoothly and warm with hot watter for a few days, and then return to the piano.

cheers

ps: I don't know where but there is a video of strech exercises at the pianists corner forum I guess. Do a search.
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#1383940 - 02/27/10 11:15 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11730
Loc: Canada
I have tried not to write anything in this thread since I have no expertise whatsoever. But have a look at your right thumb at 1:08 especially. It is tight and curled. You have written that piano is your teacher's secondary instrument. Is she able to teach you about how to use your body properly while playing so that you use it efficiently without excess strain? I don't know if it would help for you to look at the anatomy of the hand, with bones muscles and tendons. I remember that some of them are attachments from the forefinger and thumb roughly where you are showing the pain. There are some strong muscles around the thumb and you seem to be tensing that area. But again, I don't really know anything and hesitate to write even this much.

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#1383943 - 02/27/10 11:26 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: keystring]
Pete M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/10
Posts: 125
Loc: California
I'd like to add that you should be careful about how you use computers now, too. I've found that lots of piano + lots of computer using keyboard and normal mouse = bad combination, hand-wise. I try to use dictation software instead of writing whenever possible. I switched to a trackball and am thinking of getting a foot mouse.
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#1383992 - 02/27/10 01:00 PM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Pete M.]
joyoussong Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 737
Loc: Canada
Pete, that's a good point. I have chronic tendonitis in one hand, & the computer is the main cause & continues to aggravate it, especially most games or anything that involves drag + drop - I used to produce a newsletter for a non-profit, but stopped because I was doing the formatting manually, & it killed my hands. With piano, on the other hand, I almost never have any ill effects, & I usually practice for an hour a day.
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#1387082 - 03/03/10 08:07 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
It feels as if someone put strings inside my index finger and is pulling them back when I try to relax my hand...
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#1387178 - 03/03/10 10:34 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
If it were my hand, I think I'd be calling the doc about now. I hope you're at least resting it.

I don't think anyone who's replied is a doc (though we do have a few here), and I'm not. I have had some personal experience with hand and arm injuries, and I can tell you that, in general, the lasting problem with tendon inflammation is that scar tissue can form and bother the motion of the tendon through those very small passages, which it has to pass through, from the muscles in the arm to the fingers. So, it can be very desirable to take action to reduce the inflammation.

For common injuries that are not too bad, they have suggested that I take an NSAID like ibuprofen (which is anti-inflammatory as well as helping with pain), and ice the area three or four times a day for about fifteen minutes. Rest it, don't make it worse. Gentle stretches. I don't think this is too radical to suggest, if you haven't already tried it.

Many pianists suffer from hand injuries. I know the great feeling that making fast progress from lots of practice can give you--- and of course, we all want to be buff and studly. I only hope you don't follow my example in over-doing it; I have some trouble controlling my left hand to this day, though the injury has long healed.
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#1387210 - 03/03/10 11:34 AM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
I knew it was going too good to be true. I'll go to the doctor next week, I can't do so now because I can't afford it. I'm almost expecting him to say I'll never play pain-free again. frown

I stopped practicing for 3 days, things got worse. I got back to practicing on Monday, things were ok, tuesday I practiced again and it was bad, my hand was hurting after that. Today I didn't play because hand is bothering me, tomorrow I have a lesson and I'm not prepared...

I just hope it won't take too long to heal, I have nothing else to do other than practice piano, everything else is boring.


Edited by Teodor (03/03/10 11:36 AM)
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#1387379 - 03/03/10 02:51 PM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Teodor]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
"I'll go to the doctor next week, I can't do so now because I can't afford it. I'm almost expecting him to say I'll never play pain-free again."

Yeah... I've been there too, in my time. Ice, ibuprofen, and rest are not expensive. Doc may well suggest something very like that, evaluate it to see if there's some more serious problem, and see how it goes.

I'm not much good at fortune-telling, so predicting the future as far as "never...again" is a little further than I can see. The photo looked like your hand is young, so if you take a little prudent care and give your natural resiliancy a chance, I would guess you'll be fine in the end.

There's reading and listening to music, in the meantime. I like biographies of musicians. A visit to the library is also very affordable. I also found out that a lot of concert halls use volunteer ushers; a great way to get in the door free and see some great performers.

Again, good luck.
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#1387549 - 03/03/10 06:48 PM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: Jeff Clef]
bpmusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/09
Posts: 62
Loc: Canada
I would wait until it heals completely. A week or two without piano is better than playing with pain the rest of your life. You don't want to be like athletes who come back from an injury too fast and it just gets worse.

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#1387552 - 03/03/10 06:53 PM Re: Taking breaks when praticing? [Re: bpmusic]
bpmusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/09
Posts: 62
Loc: Canada
Also, there is a lot you can do away from the piano. Like Jeff Clef said, there are books, dvds, you could do some music theory. Watching a dvd about piano technique would be a good idea.

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