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Unread 03-09-2002, 10:44 PM   #1
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Thumbs down help, this doesn't feel normal...

Hey all, I'm wicked worried about something here, hopefully a doctor or more experienced guitar player (or both rolled into one) here can answer this question...

My left (fretting arm/hand) bicep feels funny, whatever muscle(s) exists between my elbow and wrist hurt weather I'm playing or not playing. I don't know how to describe the pain. It's not a sharp pain, it's sorta dull all the time, but it makes it tough to grip or hold down strings from ANY position I try to play in. Sorta like gripping on something when your arm is asleep, and it hurts, but isn't painful. Just now I tried to play "Stellar" and noticed more...

1) When I go from relaxed to fretting, the pain goes from dull and in the background (as above) to sharp and undeniable. Just now it crossed over into something that's show-stopping. I can't play more than a few seconds before the pain makes me stop. I heard that dull pain increases muscles and flexibility, but also that sharp pain is a stop sign.
2) My accuracy is gone. Trying to slur the intro to Stellar, the way I learned it:
---
G|-------9/11-11h12p11-6h7p6-|
D|-------9/11-11h12p11-6h7p6-|
A|--0-0~---------------------|
---
And my accuracy is that of a kindergarten kid who picks up his brother's guitar and half heartedly hits frets that make him look cool but sound really bad.

Ok guys, this is getting scary. It's been a year this month that I've been playing, gotten pain before but NOTHING like this. Is this normal? I usually practice for like 20 minutes at a time, total of about 2 hours a day, maybe 3 or 4 on weekends/holidays. I've never sprained or pulled this muscle either. Only thing is I usually play at my computer so my guitar is flat on my lap and I wrap my fingers around and press towards the ground. But I learned to play regular with the guitar on its side (pressing towards myself) too and that has the same results.

Can someone help me? I don't wanna throw away my guitar because I can't play it. I love playing guitar...

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Unread 03-09-2002, 10:44 PM   #2
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coulda swore i was logged in, that is me above...
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Unread 03-10-2002, 07:18 AM   #3
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I would suggest seeing your doctor. Also the way you described your playing style sounds wierd. Too me it sounds like your putting a lot of stress on your left arm. If you can get a picture of yourself playing, post it here so we can see. I think that may be part of the prob.
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Unread 03-10-2002, 11:53 AM   #4
so much
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pete_H
Also the way you described your playing style sounds wierd. Too me it sounds like your putting a lot of stress on your left arm. If you can get a picture of yourself playing, post it here so we can see. I think that may be part of the prob.
Yeah..... I agree. I don't even play guitar... but when I read the part in your post about how you usually play.... I was like, "Ouch, no wonder his arm hurts." Try playing with your hand in a natural position and as little twisting of your joints as possible.
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Unread 03-10-2002, 01:05 PM   #5
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I would suggest one or both of two things.

First, I agree with people about finding a doctor. I don't know the sort of doctor who would deal with "repeated stress injury" or carpal-tunnel related stuff, but that would be my guess. Unless you're old enough where arthritis is a possibily, or you are one of those individuals who develop it at a young age, mundane activities in life shouldn't cause pain, dull or otherwise.

The second is about technique in general. Playing like you described sounds terrible. The best thing I did for my playing was to take lessons with a classical guitar teacher. Those guys have the best technique of any guitarists. No one can make the most out of few movements as possible, and applying as little force as possible as a classical player. Probably because rock, jazz and country guitar is a fairly recent phenomenon, while classical players have had centuries to perfect their technique.

Anyways, if you can find a good teacher, they'll identify the weak spots in your technique and help reduce the stress and effort required to play.

Also, think about those sort of things yourself. If your hand feels stressed, ask yourself why. Maybe your elbow is too low, or too high. The guy would reach over and feel that muscle or ligament or whatever right by my index finger, between it and my thumb while I was playing, and if it felt too tense he'd make me move something to relax it.
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Unread 03-10-2002, 01:08 PM   #6
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I would suggest going to a music store or a guitar teacher and show them how you play, and they can probably give you tips on how to play in a different position that would feel better.
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Unread 03-10-2002, 10:50 PM   #7
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I always thought that my long fingers would cancel out the wierd arm position. Encouraging though is that this morning my arm felt a lot better. I played some POD, some JOC, some Tantric...and it felt a little better.

Pain...fading. Accuracy...increasing. Confidence...uuh...

Typing is still fine, carpel tunnel is still about 10 years down the road for me on that one

Either way I'll still find my camera and put up a pic of my playing position as soon as I get some batteries together. Thanks for the help so far all!
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Unread 03-11-2002, 11:34 AM   #8
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Although it's never a bad idea to see a doc when you're in pain, I have been through what you're going through and what was doing it to me was the position that my guitar was in relative to my body. I was trying to look too cool and hang my guitar down there around my knees, thinking my long fingers would make up for what was missing......

WRONG


Avoid looking cool at all costs and shorten your strap before you get nerve damage or something!!! Good playing position requires the guitar and your chest to be good buddies. You should be able to look straight out the side of your eye (peripheral vision) and see the headstock of your guitar almost on the level with your eye. Your fretting arm (left, if you're a right-handed player) should be bent when you play. The "angle of attack" that you take on the guitar should come more from this bend at the elbow that it comes from any bending at the wrist.
Start with those things and see if it helps. With pain like you're going through (and I've felt it!!!), I certainly hope it does help.

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Unread 03-11-2002, 11:59 AM   #9
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i think solvin this would be hard online simply because we cant really see what ur doin or when we say to hold it a certain way dont know if ur doin it right. so like someone else said...just go to anyone who plays the guitar and show them. it sounds really wierd and might be ur just playin wrong...somethin like that happen when i started barring and stuff and i had this pain between my elbow and hand.....and it was simply because i was just doin it completely wrong.
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Unread 03-11-2002, 10:29 PM   #10
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You know, as a follow-up to my previous post, I went ahead and laid my guitar flat in my lap and tried playing it.

No big surprise your arm hurts, man. What an uncomfortable way to play guitar. People have made careers out of using all sorts of eccentric playing styles, but I just don't see a lot of good in that one, unless you do a Jeff Healey thing and play with your hand above the fretboard.

And even that I don't see much point in, but people say he's really awesome, so I won't argue.

My vote : hold that guitar upright. People say it's bad to have the guitar in a significantly different position when you sit than when you stand, anyways.
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Unread 03-12-2002, 08:04 PM   #11
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maybe carprol syndrom you can avoid it by streching your wrists to get your blood flowing.
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Unread 03-12-2002, 11:24 PM   #12
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How in the world do you play like that?!
I played like that for about 30 seconds and my hand fell asleep!
No wonder you have pain in your arm, it can't be good to play like that!
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Unread 03-12-2002, 11:28 PM   #13
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I have bad wrist and i play around two hours at a time usaly, and if i keep my fore-arm streight with my hand, no problems, but, if i'm in some wierd possitian, like in a bad chair with arms or the guitar is to low and i have to bend my wrist, then it hurts plus when your wrist is bent you loose dextarity, I don't mean actualy loose I mean ..can't use, just keep your wrist streight and all should be well
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Unread 03-14-2002, 09:09 PM   #14
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Sound like you could have a case of tendonitis. Do see a doctor for a good analysis. May put you on non steriodal anti-inflamatory drug (NSAIDs) until the inflamation goes away. You may have to stop playing for a few weeks. Follow the doctors orders! You may do more damage by forcing youself.
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Unread 03-14-2002, 10:06 PM   #15
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That's the wierd part, the pain totally disappeared!

I was going to take the general suggestion of seeing a doc (my mom's a nurse for starters...) but the other night the pain just left. Few minutes ago I was playing Hoobastank - "Pieces" (fast-paced song). Threw some Incubus in there, going to try a little Tool and some JOC later on, but I feel really good (whilst the playing position is still about the same).

Cept now I'm playing an electric in my arm chair so I'm burying the bottom of it between my leg and the arm and angling it to have the head at level with my shoulder/neck and playing up there. Is that position any better/worse than what I had before?

Thanks for all the input so far!
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