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#2140372 - 08/28/13 06:19 PM Sore middle back
Ivory Ticklynn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/21/13
Posts: 18
Loc: Cudahy, Wisconsin
After playing 45 minutes straight, or so, I get sore between the shoulder blades. Does that happen to any of you?
I'm no Liberace, but I do live about a mile from the bar where he used to ride the bus to and play.

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#2140396 - 08/28/13 06:53 PM Re: Sore middle back [Re: Ivory Ticklynn]
stumbler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/10
Posts: 362
Loc: Toronto
Violette, I sometimes get upper back pain at the piano, especially if I slouch.
If you have a teacher, ask them if you are sitting at the correct height or distance away from the piano. If not, if you post a video, there are people on this forum who could give you feedback.

If this isn't confined to piano playing, a physiotherapist or chiropractor might prescribe some exercises that may help.

Another idea is to take a short break after 20 or 30 minutes. Get up, stretch, walk around for a few minutes.

#2140397 - 08/28/13 06:55 PM Re: Sore middle back [Re: Ivory Ticklynn]
pv88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 3494

You are not the only one with this issue as I have encountered this myself in my own playing, although the solution could require looking at a number of factors, including:

1) Posture:

Sitting at the piano should be a natural process although many of us tend to either slump or sit too straight, etc. We need to find just the right balance so that the spine is in general alignment with the neck/head. The distance you choose to sit in front of the piano can be important as well.

2) Bench height:

This is something you may need to experiment with although your arms should be fairly level with the keyboard without the elbows dipping too far below the level of the keys and not too far above them, also.

I can only give you these basic areas to look into since there are others here that may be able to offer more specific suggestions as it may take a little trial and error on your part to become more comfortable. Posture, bench height, and, general playing position of arms and hands are usually the first things to look at.

Extra note:

Also, check to see that your foot is in a comfortable position when using the sustain pedal as this can cause tension as well, and, if necessary raise the foot slightly with a small book (under the heel of the foot) in order to reduce the angle of your ankle when pedaling, and relieve the strain.

If you have a teacher, or know another experienced pianist, be sure to ask for their advice as they can certainly help to alleviate the problem.

#2140469 - 08/28/13 11:09 PM Re: Sore middle back [Re: Ivory Ticklynn]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1393
Loc: Cameron Park, California
A simple, but nice jpg:
"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."

#2140523 - 08/29/13 02:04 AM Re: Sore middle back [Re: Ivory Ticklynn]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014

Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2199
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Another way of thinking of the shoulders is:
To purposely pull your shoulders down and in. The term is to "pack" the shoulders. When you do this. You will notice a tightening or rather strengthening of the muscles between your shoulder blades.
Play from your back muscles, down through your arms to hands then fingers.
Don't allow yourself to extend your back or shoulders in playing. Move the entire upper half of your body instead. Lean over or even move on the stool. A good example of moving on the stool is Helene Grimaud. She literally bounces around on that stool.
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

#2140597 - 08/29/13 08:56 AM Re: Sore middle back [Re: Ivory Ticklynn]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 14913
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Be sure to take a break after 15 minutes of playing, stand up, and stretch your back:

-You can stretch this area by hugging yourself and pulling the shoulders down.
-You can also take one arm and put it behind your head as if you're going to scratch your upper back, and with your other hand pull on that arm gently from the elbow to increase the stretch. Repeat with the other arm.
-Take one arm and hold it out straight in front of you, then bend at the shoulder across your body, use the other hand to pull the arm in toward your body gently, increasing the stretch. Repeat with the other arm.

Do you have a means of making a video of yourself? Even if you don't share it with us, you can look at it yourself. Record yourself playing a piece and see if you can notice where the tension is where your playing. Sometimes it's a posture thing, other times, it's where you are holding tension. Becoming aware of that tension is the fist step, because sometimes you can't even feel that you're doing it at first. Once you become aware of it, you can purposely isolate those muscles and relax them. You'll have to constantly make yourself relax, so at first you'll be tense, then realize it and tell yourself to relax, then after a bit go back to tense again, and have to remind yourself to relax, etc. Eventually, however, your body will get used to the idea of being able to play without that tension if you keep on it.
private piano/voice teacher FT


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