General Question

this_velvet_glove's avatar

Any guitarists with wrist problems out there?

Asked by this_velvet_glove (1132 points ) February 22nd, 2013

And what do you do about that?
My left wrist hurts after playing barre chords, and I’m worried about it…

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18 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Might be carpal tunnel. Do you practice a lot?

this_velvet_glove's avatar

What does that mean? And yes…

SamandMax's avatar

Even if you’re practicing a lot, sounds like your playing the wrong guitar, or playing the guitar wrong.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@this_velvet_glove Repetitive wrist actions lead to a problem with the tendons in your wrist. They get pulled back and forth within the wrist and they get inflamed. They may require surgery. I’m no MD, that’s just what I’ve picked up over time. Check out carpal tunnel syndrome or I can look for I link if you’d like.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@SamandMax I’ve been playing for about seven months, I wouldn’t be surprised…

@Adirondackwannabe That doesn’t sound good… Can that be caused by playing for a few hours without doing any warm up exercises first? (I made that mistake once and it hurt a lot)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@this_velvet_glove I don’t know if warming up would help avoid carpal tunnel. It’s just the repetiitive action I think, which is guitar playing. Let me look into it.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe ouch. I have to be careful…

Yetanotheruser's avatar

If you’ve been playing about seven months, I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about carpal tunnel. Although it definitely might be an issue, I would think the muscles, tendons and nerves in your wrist and fingers are just getting a workout they might not be used to. Remember, most of the muscles and tendons that control the fingers are located in the wrist and forearm.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@this_velvet_glove I’m thinking there’s ton’s of guitar players out there. Maybe study your technique? It would be more common if it was a big problem.

janbb's avatar

My son is a programmer and a guitarist and has had recurring problems with his wrists. Taking frequent breaks is important.. You might have to wear a support at night too if the pain is bad. Limit your practice time and see if that helps.

SamandMax's avatar

@this_velvet_glove A relatively new player then? That would explain it most likely. Comfort is key. If you’re not comfortable, you’re definitely not playing it right and it might also be because you have the wrong guitar for the job.
Guitar playing is supposed to be enjoyable, not a physical strain. Play it with your fingers, and less emphasis on your wrists. People do have a nasty habit of strumming strings with wrist movement instead of using forearm movement. They also have a habit of straining their wrists when playing chords incorrectly in terms of physical movement. I suspect that maybe you have a guitar that has a neck that is too wide for your hand to hold comfortably when playing, or you may just be trying too hard to play some impossibly difficult chords. Guitars are built in all manner of shapes and sizes, not to a uniform standard – it’s precisely because of that that there are people who play some very interesting looking guitars (some of Joe Satriani’s for instance are completely off the chain) – and it may not be just for the style of it, but also the comfort factor. To find out if you are actually playing the wrong guitar, it’s pretty easy to find a music shop and just have a go with various guitars and see if a particular guitar actually works for you in being comfortable to play.
There are plenty of musicians who play the guitar and the only likely injury they’re ever most likely to face is deafness from massive amps. So check your physical playing style (we’re not talking finger-picking or the like, but the way you handle your guitar). Adjust. If it becomes a chore, you’re doing it wrong.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@SamandMax T h a n k s ! Usually, I’m quite comfortable when playing, but sometimes I notice that, in order to play a chord correctly and make it sound good, I put too much pressure on my left hand and then it hurts. So I guess I’m doing it wrong… I’m sure I can learn how to do it right. Also, I’ve played a few other guitars, that were actually both easier and more comfortable to play, but I had already bought my guitar when that happened (and when I bought that first-electric-guitar-ever-wow I didn’t think much about it, I just got the one that looked beautiful and wasn’t too expensive for me, so…)

SamandMax's avatar

Seeing as you’ve only been playing for seven months, how are you learning to play? Courses? Books?

Buttonstc's avatar

If you’re having trouble with barred chords, I think your observation is correct that you’re placing a lot of strain on the wrist.

Have you tried using a capo? If not familiar with it, this is a device which presses the strings down for you and you just need to place it for which key you’re playing in.

Go to a music shop with your guitar and try out a few. There are two styles which I’ve used. One is pretty inexpensive and has an adjustable thick elastic band attached to the bar and one end has several holes enabling you to tighten it at the thinner or thicker part of the neck (sort of like an adjustable belt.)

The other is more expensive but places stronger more even pressure. It’s a little difficult to describe in writing but just ask the clerk to demonstrate it for you; it’s really easy to operate.

Are you using an acoustic guitar or an electric? Obviously, an electric one is a lot easier to deal with and the strings are much closer to the neck, thus needing much less pressure to hold them down.

..
http://www.google.com/search?q=capo&hl=en&client=tablet-android-samsung&source=android-instant&biw=1024&bih=600&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=vrQpUdqlGYaZqgHB-YGgDA&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ

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http://m.guitarcenter.com/Category/Default.aspx?c=3276&c=5087&c=5389&urx=1

..

Buttonstc's avatar

Here’s a brief video showing one in use with some tips for transposing chords. Once you get your transpositions worked out ahead of time, it’s really a breeze to use.

Iwhen I used to play, I used one most of the time because my fingers were so short ; it made my life so much easier (and less painful :)

..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1033BABk9o&feature=youtube_gdata_player

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@SamandMax Private lessons, books, videos, anything I can find, actually.

@Buttonstc I already have a capo, but I never use it because I think that if I get used to using it, I’ll never learn how to play without it. (not sure if it makes sense the way I wrote it :p)
And I have both an electric and an acoustic guitar, love both of ‘em :)

SamandMax's avatar

The other capo @Buttonstc? That wouldn’t be the sort that kind of resembles a sort of enclosed metal clamp when sealed around the neck with cushioned padding for contact with the strings would it? Got one. OR rather did have one. Just got the cheap and nasty variant instead. Horrid thing.
Probably right not to use a capo right now, I should think that would come in handy further down the line. I know I didn’t use one straight off the bat, it was a good couple of years before I started doing that (slow learner unfortunately).

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