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#1991884 - 11/28/12 09:53 AM Hand soreness
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
As a 2-month newbie aspiring non-classical pianist, I'm looking for some wisdom-

I'm advised to practice 30 minutes every day. By 20 minutes or so, I begin to feel a slight soreness in my left wrist. I'm confident that I am using good hand posture and attribute the soreness to lack of conditioning in the wrist muscles, joints, etc.

What should my strategy be for this- stop playing when this happens? Make the practices shorter? Do multiple short sessions? Just keep going? The soreness is very mild but I have read horror stories of serious and permanent injury.

I don't want to let my enthusiasm do me in!



Edited by 88slowpoke (11/28/12 09:56 AM)

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#1991895 - 11/28/12 10:36 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1776
Loc: Pennsylvania
You are doing the right thing by paying attention to discomfort.

Multiple short sessions is probably the best option.

Certainly, not the KEEP GOING option !!

It would not hurt to take a day or two off just to give your wrist a chance to recover.

I once let my enthusiasm override my common sense and I ended up not touching the piano for about 4 months.








Edited by dmd (11/28/12 10:38 AM)
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#1991907 - 11/28/12 11:17 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5282
Loc: Philadelphia
It is difficult to determine whether the soreness is being caused by the muscles, as they learn a new skill and build the strength to perform it. I will not rule out the possibility. However, more often than not it is a sign of tension, and any tension maintained for a long enough period of time will cause injury to such a small mechanism as the hands/fingers.

Any chance you can post a video of you playing and also practicing something? Might be revealing.. smile
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#1991914 - 11/28/12 11:39 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2375
Loc: Virginia, USA
I'm going to second the call on this being tension even if you are confident about hand position. It's taken me two years plus to (mostly) get rid of mine under the watchful eye of a teacher. And my left hand (I'm right handed) is worse for that than my right.
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#1991960 - 11/28/12 01:36 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Thanks all for the responses, all good points and well taken. Unfortunately, I am not able to make a video as suggested by Derulux. I will proceed cautiously as advised and expect in a month or so to begin lessons (For the second time- just dropped out of lessons that were designed to sell me an electric piano); we have recently acquired a vintage Mason B to replace an old and untunable family instrument.

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#1991966 - 11/28/12 01:56 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
Slowpoke: another suggestion is to break up your practice into two 15 minute sessions so you can take a break in between. Resting for a few minutes will probably help with the pain/tension issue.

I break up an hour practice into 4 15 minute sessions, everyday. I take 5 or ten minutes in between just to relax (like right now! LOL) and then go back and refocus. I find it really helps me keep relaxed and has reduced many issues I had with my back and wrist pain from tension.
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Began: 01-12-11


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#1992003 - 11/28/12 03:16 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
StefaanBelgium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/12
Posts: 53
Loc: Belgium
Definately watch out not to overdo things, especially if you're already a bit *ahum* older . Since I passed the 35 year mark, I have to watch out for what I do. If I sport too fanatically, my body will pay for it ! I've learnt to listen to my body the hard way ...
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#1992037 - 11/28/12 04:45 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2320
Loc: UK
I wonder how heavy or stiff the key action is on a vintage Mason B? Sometimes a lighter action, even if it is obtained via a digital, can be a stepping stone towards longer practice for those who have hand problems.

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#1992043 - 11/28/12 04:57 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: spanishbuddha]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 944
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I think that with proper technique, heaviness or lightness of the action shouldn't be an issue. It's even possible for lighter actions (as on a computer keyboard) to lead to more hand problems, as people may be encouraged to use more isolated finger motions instead of hand and arm together.
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#1992068 - 11/28/12 05:36 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: BeccaBb]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: BeccaBb
Slowpoke: another suggestion is to break up your practice into two 15 minute sessions so you can take a break in between. Resting for a few minutes will probably help with the pain/tension issue.

I break up an hour practice into 4 15 minute sessions, everyday. I take 5 or ten minutes in between just to relax (like right now! LOL) and then go back and refocus. I find it really helps me keep relaxed and has reduced many issues I had with my back and wrist pain from tension.



Thank you- this is the approach I have started as of today.

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#1992069 - 11/28/12 05:37 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
Your welcome! smile

Let us know if it's working for you!
_________________________
Becca
Began: 01-12-11


Floundering and Lost
Roland RD300NX

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#1992072 - 11/28/12 05:39 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: StefaanBelgium]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: StefaanBelgium
Definately watch out not to overdo things, especially if you're already a bit *ahum* older . Since I passed the 35 year mark, I have to watch out for what I do. If I sport too fanatically, my body will pay for it ! I've learnt to listen to my body the hard way ...


Well, Stefaan... I passed the 35 year mark also... 30 years ago! But, I'm fit, active, and as a result of a career spent in the construction trades, I still have (most) of my "oomph".

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#1992074 - 11/28/12 05:40 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: spanishbuddha]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: spanishbuddha
I wonder how heavy or stiff the key action is on a vintage Mason B? Sometimes a lighter action, even if it is obtained via a digital, can be a stepping stone towards longer practice for those who have hand problems.


Actually, I've been practicing on the old piano, which has a feather-light action. The Mason will arrive in a few days.

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#1992076 - 11/28/12 05:43 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: BeccaBb]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: BeccaBb
Your welcome! smile

Let us know if it's working for you!


Will do. It's nice to get some feedback from others to my little corner of the world, and I'll keep everyone posted.

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#1992165 - 11/28/12 09:39 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5282
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: 88slowpoke
Thanks all for the responses, all good points and well taken. Unfortunately, I am not able to make a video as suggested by Derulux. I will proceed cautiously as advised and expect in a month or so to begin lessons (For the second time- just dropped out of lessons that were designed to sell me an electric piano); we have recently acquired a vintage Mason B to replace an old and untunable family instrument.

No problem. In that case, keep in mind a few things:

1. Do not "press down" the key after you have played it. Use just enough weight to keep it down, without forcing.

2. Do not "stretch" your fingers out. (Press your fingers together so they are all touching. Then, spread them out as wide as you can so none of them touch. This spread out form is "stretching" and can cause tension.)

3. Do not "lock" your fingers, hands, wrists, or arms in any one position. Each must move throughout the playing, whether it's a simple trill or a complex passage. If they're "locked", it's tension.


These are probably the top three easiest "tension checkers," though I'm sure others may have more ideas for you. I hope it helps. smile
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#1992187 - 11/28/12 10:41 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
stumbler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/10
Posts: 280
Loc: Toronto
As a secondary comment, you might also consider some stretching before you practice. I am not a health professional, but some gentle stretching before your practice may also help if you have some muscle tightness.

One site I found is

http://www.musicianshealth.com/stretches.htm
_________________________
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#1992298 - 11/29/12 07:57 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2415
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Stay mindful of Hands Separate practice and be sure to alternate hands. Working on pieces, my right hand gets tired quite often, so I give it a little rest while the left works on something, which is not the same piece.
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#1992322 - 11/29/12 09:04 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: 88slowpoke
As a 2-month newbie aspiring non-classical pianist, I'm looking for some wisdom-

I'm advised to practice 30 minutes every day. By 20 minutes or so, I begin to feel a slight soreness in my left wrist. I'm confident that I am using good hand posture and attribute the soreness to lack of conditioning in the wrist muscles, joints, etc.

What should my strategy be for this- stop playing when this happens? Make the practices shorter? Do multiple short sessions? Just keep going? The soreness is very mild but I have read horror stories of serious and permanent injury.

I don't want to let my enthusiasm do me in!



Are you studying with a teacher? Be sure to mention this to them so they can study how you're playing. Soreness usually is the result of 1) Overuse 2) Abuse (poor technique) or 3) Both.

In order to help troubleshoot the issue, stop playing immediately when you first experience signs of fatigue. The fatigue happens before the soreness, so it's important that you catch this early. That may mean after 10 minutes. Keep in mind that two 10-minute sessions is the same as one 20-minute session, so don't feel lik you will be practicing less. Be sure you give yourself enough time to rest in between sessions.

If, however in your second session you feel the fatigue or soreness coming on, then stop. This may indicate that the issue is not a matter of "strength" but a matter of technical issues that need to be addressed by someone who knows how to spot these things and deal with them. If your teacher is unable to help you, perhaps they can recommend someone you can consult with for a little while to resolve it.
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#1992453 - 11/29/12 03:00 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions. Although I do not currently have a teacher, I am looking for one and practicing on my own in the meantime. I get the idea that it is common to have these symptoms when starting out and that I should not ignore them. I will be mindful of any pain or stiffness until I get some professional instruction.

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#1992485 - 11/29/12 04:10 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5282
Loc: Philadelphia
Where do you live? There may be members in here who can help you find a good teacher. I may be able to help. And there is the teacher's sub-forum you can post in.
_________________________
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#1992500 - 11/29/12 04:55 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Generally, if you are involved in intense activity of wrist or fingers, you can have some soreness. It is very, very important to be very relaxed when typing or being a cashier or
playing the piano. An acoustic piano requires quite a bit of strength. I would suggest that you be very gentle of your wrists such as carrying heavy bags of groceries, etc. I have typed since I was 13 and I am now in my 60s. I have time to time have had wrist discomport. It is usually under stress of the fingers and wrist that pain or discomfort develops. I play an acoustic piano by I only play it softly as a beginner. I suspect if I play the piano forte all the time I might have wrists pain. I suspect you will be just fine if you just be gentle for a while and hopefully the discomfort will diminish and you can slowly and cautiously return to your regular piano playing.

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#1992623 - 11/29/12 10:58 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: Derulux]
MaryAnn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 388
Loc: Japan
Originally Posted By: Derulux

No problem. In that case, keep in mind a few things:

1. Do not "press down" the key after you have played it. Use just enough weight to keep it down, without forcing.

2. Do not "stretch" your fingers out. (Press your fingers together so they are all touching. Then, spread them out as wide as you can so none of them touch. This spread out form is "stretching" and can cause tension.)

3. Do not "lock" your fingers, hands, wrists, or arms in any one position. Each must move throughout the playing, whether it's a simple trill or a complex passage. If they're "locked", it's tension.


These are probably the top three easiest "tension checkers," though I'm sure others may have more ideas for you. I hope it helps. smile
I'm having left wrist issues, and I think I'm guilty of all three of those. I really want to work on correcting this with my teacher, but my wrist just isn't recovering :-(

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#1992635 - 11/29/12 11:57 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: MaryAnn]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5282
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: MaryAnn
Originally Posted By: Derulux

No problem. In that case, keep in mind a few things:

1. Do not "press down" the key after you have played it. Use just enough weight to keep it down, without forcing.

2. Do not "stretch" your fingers out. (Press your fingers together so they are all touching. Then, spread them out as wide as you can so none of them touch. This spread out form is "stretching" and can cause tension.)

3. Do not "lock" your fingers, hands, wrists, or arms in any one position. Each must move throughout the playing, whether it's a simple trill or a complex passage. If they're "locked", it's tension.


These are probably the top three easiest "tension checkers," though I'm sure others may have more ideas for you. I hope it helps. smile
I'm having left wrist issues, and I think I'm guilty of all three of those. I really want to work on correcting this with my teacher, but my wrist just isn't recovering :-(

If it's bad enough to cause significant aching/pain, you may need to take some time off.

Also, keep in mind that other uses of the hand away from playing may exacerbate the issue. If you hold a phone in your hand all day, if you type incorrectly on a keyboard (usually with wrists resting on a surface, whether gel or not), if you finger rapidly through pages of copy, etc. Any of these can causes repeated stress-related injuries. There are hundreds of examples, but the most important thing to keep in mind is this: inflammation builds over time. You won't necessarily feel it while performing the specific task. You may only feel it hours later, and often immediately before going to sleep.

If you want to take a look at/tackle any specific problems, I'd be happy to try and help, whether within or outside the realm of the piano. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1992736 - 11/30/12 08:40 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: Derulux]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Where do you live? There may be members in here who can help you find a good teacher. I may be able to help. And there is the teacher's sub-forum you can post in.


Thanks for the offer. I have some local leads to follow in the coming days. If they don't pan out, I'll then look for some additional input. BTW, I live in southwestern RI (aka God's country, except for our politicians).

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#1992774 - 11/30/12 10:54 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5282
Loc: Philadelphia
Southwestern RI? I'm very familiar. Used to have a house in Westerly, about 2 blocks off the beach. But I haven't been up there in a few years now.

The closest I can get is the Boston suburbs.. which is likely too far for you to travel for lessons. I'll ask around up there and see if anyone I know might know someone in RI for you. I'll PM you if I get a hit.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1992869 - 11/30/12 02:47 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
Dear 88slow,

"...we have recently acquired a vintage Mason B to replace an old and untunable family instrument."

I like the advice you have received here--- and I can see how such an instrument would be both a motivator and a temptation which any pianist would find hard to resist. Still, you are wise to stop trouble before it gets started, because it can turn out to be a big and difficult problem if it's not turned aside.

In the circumstances, you might as well make it a point to ask candidate teachers if they are knowledgeable and experienced in helping students to avoid physical problems that can come from playing. This will not be the case with all of them, even in your area, though if you threw a dart at a map of metro Boston it would probably lodge in the roof of a conservatory or university music school (or at least a concert hall). It is possible that calling such a school could yield teacher recommendations.

Meanwhile, even if a vid of your playing is not possible, how about a still photo? A thousand words, you know. One bad mistake in seat height or seated posture, or of the alignment of hand/wrist/arm with the keys, is all it takes. I'll give you one example: some people sit way too low, so that instead of pushing the keys down with a fairly straight wrist, they instead pull the keys down with their wrists bent almost at 90°. It is a disaster in the making; the tendons resent this badly.

I can't say what is the story with your wrist discomfort from what we know, and what to do depends on what is wrong. One would doubt that you have had time to develop an overuse disorder (rest, ice/NSAIDS, correct technique); it could be as simple as a little touch of arthritis (and in that case, movement IS the treatment). Not that I'm a doctor--- merely a student who has been through some of this trouble myself.

I'll wish you the best of luck with it, and I hope you'll write back and let us know how it goes.
_________________________
Clef


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#1992998 - 11/30/12 09:12 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: Derulux]
MaryAnn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 388
Loc: Japan
Originally Posted By: Derulux
If it's bad enough to cause significant aching/pain, you may need to take some time off.

Also, keep in mind that other uses of the hand away from playing may exacerbate the issue. If you hold a phone in your hand all day, if you type incorrectly on a keyboard (usually with wrists resting on a surface, whether gel or not), if you finger rapidly through pages of copy, etc. Any of these can causes repeated stress-related injuries. There are hundreds of examples, but the most important thing to keep in mind is this: inflammation builds over time. You won't necessarily feel it while performing the specific task. You may only feel it hours later, and often immediately before going to sleep.

If you want to take a look at/tackle any specific problems, I'd be happy to try and help, whether within or outside the realm of the piano. smile
I haven't played the piano with my left hand for quite a few months now. I have continued my lessons, but we are doing right hand only practice.

I'm curious about your typing comments. I just bought a rest to put in front of my keyboard at work, and a "mouse bean" for my mouse hand, even though my right hand is fine. It feels like they are keeping my hands in a better position than when I don't use them. If I read your post correctly, you are saying these things are bad?

I've been typing for about 35 years, and it's never caused me problems, btw. When I started having wrist problems (about 8 months after starting piano), everything seems to aggravate it at least sometimes.

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#1993117 - 12/01/12 08:25 AM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 34
It seems I have opened quite a hot topic with this thread. It would be interesting to hear additional accounts of personal experiences with soreness and/or stiffness issues. For the moment, I am paying attention to any symptoms that arise and curtailing my practicing as necessary. At this point, my symptoms are minor, but I don't want them to escalate.

I'm hoping that with some conditioning of the piano-playing muscles, these issues will diminish.

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#1993386 - 12/01/12 08:22 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 149
As a 67 year old with FMS I have many physical issues.

Some things that are helping me to help myself and my teacher to help me are:

Thomas Mark’s book What Every Pianist Needs to Know about the Body – after going through the book I also acquired the DVD, but have not checked it out yet

Barbara Lister-Sink’s DVD Freeing the Caged Bird

Finding a really good Neuro-Muscular Massage Therapist who is interested enough to have reviewed Sink’s DVD and Mark’s book

Having a really good teacher who watches me like a hawk and picks up on tension and bad form

I just started the first book of exercises in Piano Games by Terrence Rust – these are uncovering all sorts of tension and weakness issues

I have learned from my teacher to have patience, to work exercises and scales slowly while paying close attention to hand position and tension – and to expect that progress will be made – but it will take some time – each little step mastered has become a really big thing for me – and I’ve learned to feel really good about mastering something that many would take for granted

I wish you the best – just be very patient with yourself – I think it’s great that you picked up on the problem and realize the importance of dealing with it early

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#1993389 - 12/01/12 08:25 PM Re: Hand soreness [Re: 88slowpoke]
Bane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 91
Loc: USA
Quote:
As a 2-month newbie aspiring non-classical pianist, I'm looking for some wisdom-

I'm advised to practice 30 minutes every day. By 20 minutes or so, I begin to feel a slight soreness in my left wrist. I'm confident that I am using good hand posture and attribute the soreness to lack of conditioning in the wrist muscles, joints, etc.

What should my strategy be for this- stop playing when this happens? Make the practices shorter? Do multiple short sessions? Just keep going? The soreness is very mild but I have read horror stories of serious and permanent injury.

I don't want to let my enthusiasm do me in!



LOL! Now you sound like a guitar player!

+1 to shorter sessions.


Edited by Bane (12/01/12 08:39 PM)
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