To break - or not to break?

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
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Vic Lewis VL
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To break - or not to break?

Post by Vic Lewis VL » July 14th, 2010, 5:25 pm

Well, it's been a while - I haven't touched a guitar for about three, maybe four months. A nasty stabbing pain in my shoulder every time I moved my right arm made me seek out medical advice.....and, after words like "torn rotator cuff" - whatever the heck that is - were bandied about for a while, "severely sprained shoulder" was the final diagnosis. Treatment? Painkillers - strongish ones at first, dosage gradually reduced - then anti-inflammatories, then a course of physiotherapy - seems to have worked.

I tried - about 6-8 weeks back - to pick up a guitar. Ouch, is all I remember of that particular few minutes...so I decided to be a good boy, follow doctor's orders, keep my arm in a sling, and do NOTHING that could turn a severe sprain into something more serious.

Anyway, tonight, I decided that the rotting black strings on the Tele really needed replacing, for when I finally got around to playing again - then the fretboard needed cleaning. So I cleaned it. Then I couldn't resist tuning it in, so's it'd be somewhere close to Standard tuning when/if I ever got the all-clear to play again.

Then I couldn't resist playing a few chords - then a few fills and riffs - and a couple of solos. No problem with the shoulder at all - I'm strumming from the elbow. But, after about 1/2 an hour, the fingers started getting sore - really sore. No callouses.

For once in my life, I'm going to go with some good advice - don['t overdo it. I put the guitar down, I want to be able to play it again tomorrow....but here's what's happened during my enforced lay-off.

1 - haven't learned any new songs. I usually try and learn at least 2-3 new songs per week.

2 - where'd my callouses go? They're sure as hell not here when I need them....

3 - I've listened to a lot of music on the radio. Re-discovered some old bands/songs, even found a couple of new songs to learn.

4 - I've realised I don't need a break from guitar. Some people might - but not me. I need to pay every day, and I need to learn something new when appropriate.

5 - oh, my fingers! I need to find that fine line between overdoing it and just enough practise....

and 6th, and most importantly - if it's in your power to play guitar, pick it up and play it - you'll regret the down-time!!

OK - back to try and learn "Tumbling Dice"...got to stretch yourself, haven't you!

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Blueline
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Blueline » July 14th, 2010, 8:39 pm

Dear Professor Albus Dumblechord,

What did you do, pray tell, to cause a severe shoulder sprain? Did I miss a post about this? Have you been playing rugby with the younger chaps? And, if your shoulder were to break, why would you not follow Les Paul's example and have your arm set so that you COULD play!

Yes, I agree, follow the doc's orders until it is at least almost bearable to play. Then, when you reach that point...you gotta play dude!
Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.

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Staffan
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Staffan » July 15th, 2010, 5:05 am

Glad to see that you´re taking all this pretty well, Vic (or is it just a facade :shock: )!

No seriously, I´m sorry to hear about your injury, sonds really tough! Hope that you´ll soon be back in full working order!

I´m about to go on a 11-day holiday, starting next week, and I´ve started to worry a bit about not being able to play the guitar while I´m gone. Since reading your post I´m starting to feel a bit "ashamed" though, when I compare this - rather pleasant holiday-break - to what you´re going through. Hope that everything works out well for you - soon! :note2: :note1: :note2: :note1:
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Nuno
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Nuno » July 15th, 2010, 6:35 am

Good news, Vic! Doctors usually have a 'conservative' point of view on injuries if they don't practice sports. At least here. you always get the answer "you can not run" independently the injury. So, listen to the doctors but the shoulder is yours, you know better than them if it works or if you feel any pain. If it doesn't work, wait another month. I tried to speed up an injury in my right ankle and I had to stop for two months more...

On the other hand, once I did read when you get back to train, you must train considering your current fit level and not as you used to train. So, start slowly, 1/2 hour is more than enough for the first day!

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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by rparker » July 16th, 2010, 4:32 am

I dunno. Perhaps build slowly if you must?

I received the advice about my head from the doc. "Golf? Go ahead and try. You can't hurt anything" sheeeeeeeought! Two months later and I am still not back to where I was 2 1/2 months ago. doc said, "Well, at least we know."

I'm all for not pushing anything, but perhaps a call in to the nurse who can talk to your doc will provide some minimal permission?

and btw, you're a stud. Arm in a sling all this time and you have not been snippy here? You da man. :mrgreen:
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Blue Jay » July 16th, 2010, 5:02 am

Sorry for your injury Vic. I didn't know. I hope it heals up! Don't lift any Les Pauls or Twin Reverb amps, that would my advice as a doctor of pseudo-science, but I'm not a doctor. :lol: Yet I can see lifting an amp producing a torn rotator cuff?

You sure were busy fixing up that cherished Tele needing TLC, and getting 'er into a nice smart condition, and tuning it to play.

It is surprising how quickly the callouses disappear, and furthermore, if you do dishes in hot water and use scouring pads. :shock:

Here's a little ditty you may play, with a decidedly English flavour, as you're rehabilitating your playing arm or fingers, and getting back your chops. 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-ql9C_itQw
Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

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Vic Lewis VL
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Vic Lewis VL » July 16th, 2010, 12:11 pm

Think I've seen enough of Doctors for now, Bluejay.....

Funny, but an hour's playing yesterday, a couple of hours today, and the skin on the ends of my fingers are already feeling a little rougher....sore, but rougher. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? No, they ARE definitely a little rougher and tougher!

The muscle memory's definitely kicking in though - I thought those barre chords would be tough to hold down with no callouses, but I don't seem to be having any problems....so far.....

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Blueline » July 16th, 2010, 6:17 pm

Like I said...its the pain of pure elation buddy! Glad to see you're back to playing!
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by dogbite » July 17th, 2010, 2:26 am

hey Vic. a shoulder injury is very painful, as it 'telescopes' to many parts of the body. my torn shoulder muscle, a tiny one the size of a postage stamp that is part of the muscle group around the ball joint of the shoulder, caused me so much pain.... it extended to my collar bone, so turning my head and even tossing and turning in bed were gave me much pain. the swelling pinched a nerve and my hand would tingle. playing guitar was difficult.
following the doctors orders, doing all the physical therapy exercises for several months did wonders, as the muscle slowly healed.
I noticed that as the pain when moving, gripping, etc. diminished my desire to play grew. the callouses never quite disappeared. they never do if you have played for a couple decades.
true words about muscle memory. it is stronger than my brain memory.
I found that playing my ukulele was easier on the body than an electric guitar and a big dreadnaught acoustic. the uke's four strings provided much enjoyment .
hang in there Vic. healing requires diligence and patience. but you will get there.
my best to you.

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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Scrybe » July 19th, 2010, 8:12 am

dogbite wrote: it extended to my collar bone, so turning my head and even tossing and turning in bed were gave me much pain. the swelling pinched a nerve and my hand would tingle. playing guitar was difficult.
That's exactly what I'm experiencing now. :roll: Glad to see there may be light at the end of the tunnel for me. The physio said I have a tennis-ball sized knot in my shoulder likely causing nerve compression, and gave me some exercises for that which are helping, but I've only just started physio. As I can barely play at the moment, I've been topping up with doing some ear training exercises on computer - I've also had to lay off writing as much as possible, as it's all on my left hand side, and I'm a leftie writer but a righty guitarist. So, ear training, reading, and watching movies has replaced my usual diet of guitar playing lately.
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dogbite
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by dogbite » July 19th, 2010, 6:24 pm

ouch. I feel your pain. do the physical therapy. it really works. after the inflammation is reduced, it is all about muscle strengthening . you do a series of exercises. tiny movements that isolate one small muscle. you then work the muscle group each muscle at a time. I started with ten lifts of a stainless butter knife. at first I thought it silly. by the time I got to 8 I could hardly hold my arm up. I was working a muscle just a bit larger than a postage stamp, the therapist told me. eventually after gradual increases in weight over time I could do reps of 50 with a large tomato can. and the only pain I felt was the good pain, which I call the stretchie pain.
the doctor, on first examination of my muscle tear, gave me a shot of cortezone (a steroid). he jabbed me right on top the shoulder. man, it's all bone there. it really hurt. then, ahhhhhhhh. in a few days I began the penny lift exercises.
I haven't a stich of injury pain at all. at all. I can lie in bed and turn as if i were a cloud.
best wishes to you for a happy cloud landing.

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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Scrybe » July 20th, 2010, 1:25 pm

Thanks for the words of encouragement, dogbite! Went to my second physio session today. He massaged my neck and shoulders and put pressure on anywhere I had knots to loosen them. That was quite tender, but worth it - I felt really relaxed afterwards and my hand felt fine until this evening (hand, shoulder, etc, feeling tighter again now). I've been told to do the same set of stretches from last week until my next session on Monday, then I've got a bit of time off from physio as I'll be in the US, and then right back to it!

My hand and arm feel really weak all the time, though. Silly stuff like pouring from bottle of water is like working out, and I get involutary muscle spasms in my back and arm. Never had that before. I think once I've got through physio I'm gonna take up yoga for a while, to stretch my whole body and keep it flexible over time. I found a centre in town that offers classes on it, so I'm gonna check in there, and start as soon as the physio gives me the all clear.

I've managed to avoid the steroids so far, though. Glad about that! Power is in the mind, the strong can endure.
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by dogbite » July 20th, 2010, 6:41 pm

adding additional therapies, like yoga, can only help the healing as well as the well being.
one has to treat the injury, but it is important to treat the injured.
pain really messes up the head. I am short tempered and unpleasant to be around.
once the pain subsides I tend to lose my upside down smile.

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Scrybe
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Scrybe » July 21st, 2010, 2:32 am

dogbite wrote:adding additional therapies, like yoga, can only help the healing as well as the well being.
one has to treat the injury, but it is important to treat the injured.
pain really messes up the head. I am short tempered and unpleasant to be around.
once the pain subsides I tend to lose my upside down smile.
I too have very little patience when injured. Compounded by the fact that I used to do loads of sports, so doing simple exercises doesn't really feeling like 'exercising' to me. It's been a bit of a battle this time around to take it easy and not stress things, though I know from how it feels that is exactly what I need to do.

Once I'm well enough to start exercising again, I'm gonna go with yoga and swimming first (backstroke), before I consider doing any power-lifting or rugby. :lol:
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Re: To break - or not to break?

Post by Nuno » July 21st, 2010, 2:27 pm

Patience is important. Patience is very important when injured.

Playing an instrument is also exercise. And it should be considered as such!

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