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wrist pain on some barre chords

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(@tree)
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Hi,
I've been doing barre chords for a couple years now and generally it's going decently. For most common barre chords I don't feel like I have to strain or anything and can play them easily. However, after doing barre chords for awhile in practicing I will sometimes get a shooting pain in my wrist. Specifically, the pain occurs at the insertion point of the tendon on the side of the pinky finger. That part of my wrist seems to tense up when I press down with my pinky hard.

Anyways, I've started doing some really light weight-lifting for my wrists and additionally stretch and massage my wrists before and during practice.
I think my wrist position is okay, but I thought I'd just post a couple pics for others to check. Hopefully the pictures show the wrist well enough.

Here the pictures are (E-form barre chord):

Any help would be great, thanks!

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dogbite
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I think you have very good hand/wrist posture. your wrist is straight
and your fingers have full access to the fret board.
it does not get any better than that.
a few things are important to your pain;
intensity, duration, recovery.
also when did you first notice it and what had you been doing.

some pain, discomfort, ache, what ever one calls it, some hurt comes with the territory.
aging, weather, climate, hydration, stress, should be considered.
I have experienced a sore wrist after an long guitar session playing lap steel.
my wrist was bent to hold the picks and play.
after a few days all was better.

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http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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Rahul
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It happens with me too. I also feel pain in the wrist after playing a song containing all barres for 3 minutes or so.

You just have to hang in there. Very high pain can be serious, but a little pain has to be endured imo to play those barres. So grit your teeth and play.

Your technique is correct so don't worry about it.


   
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tree
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Topic starter  

Thanks both for the help.
Yeah, its been happening for probably around 6 months now. It started after a period in which I didn't have as much time to practice, so lack of warmup may have been a bit of a factor, though I think the main problem was that I started playing pieces with more and harder barre chords.

I've tried playing through the pain before, but its a sharp shooting pain that is really hard to go through. I'm hoping some light weight lifting will help strengthen the tendon or whatever.

I noticed that on a G-form barre chord I do tend to bend my wrist quite a bit more as compared to the E-form. The same for doing a partial barred A chord with a high A (002225). Is it possible to do these while keeping a straight wrist? (without going into a classical guitar position)

Thanks again

so many places that are hard to see
so many places that aren't
so many places we want to be
so many times we are not


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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I'm another who has to be careful not to overdo the barres, although in my case it's more a legacy of hand injuries. Your hand and wrist position look good from the pics - they don't look as if there's any strain on them. It could simply be that you're pressing hard on the strings to make sure they're all sounding correctly - I don't know what string gauge you use, but that could also be a factor. Personally, I'm willing to sacrifice a little depth of tone for ease of playing and I always use very light strings, which saves me a lot of pain, literally and figuratively speaking.

As for the G-shaped barres, they always did seem to me to be more of a stretch than A- or E-shaped barres. I use a similar A chord - x02255 - for "All Right Now" using my little finger for the top E and B strings - took a while, but I've got it nice and smooth now.

The one thing I did notice from the pics is that the headstock is a little low - you could maybe try raising it a little.

Good luck!

: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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Topic starter  

I like the lighter gauge strings for the same reason. I usually try to play with .11s though the action on my guitar is a little high so (effort-wise) they feel more like .12s.
I normally do raise the headstock up a bit by raising my right knee, but I didn't in the picture for some reason. That does definitely help things.

Thanks for the help

so many places that are hard to see
so many places that aren't
so many places we want to be
so many times we are not


   
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Wes Inman
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I agree with the others, your hand posture is almost perfect. You really have hands for guitar too. :D

Playing barres on acoustic for extended periods is very strenuous, you may be simply overdoing it. I would be very careful and give your hand a rest for awhile, this could develop into a permanent problem.

Sometimes people clamp down on barre chords with much more force than is really necessary. Practice letting up the pressure on barre chords until you are using the minimum force necessary but still playing the chord cleanly. This can be difficult, because you can develop a habit of using too much force without thinking about it. You have to retrain yourself to use minimum force.

When I play long extended times of barre chords, like the rhythm guitar on Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd during the long solo, I rest my hand quickly during chord changes. When going from the G to Bb for instance, during that very brief moment when shifting up the neck I relax my hand completely. You'd be surprised what that little brief moment of rest can do, it can keep your wrist from falling off! :D

It may also help you to tilt the guitar up at a slightly higher angle, so try that.

Whatever you do, do not injure your hand. When you feel pain, stop. Let your hand rest awhile.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Alan Green
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What's your warmup routine? With the hand and arm in good position I think it's got to be down to what you're doing before you play

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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yournightmare
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I get wrist pain, too. Mine is in between the bones of my arm, right where the arm meets the hand. It doesn't happen with barre chords, though--it's just from regular playing. Mine is from pressing down too hard on the fretboard with my fingers. I only tense up like that when I'm learning new songs or playing a particularly difficult (difficult for me) song. I try to control it, but I end up concentrating so hard on staying relaxed that I can't concentrate on the song. I'm getting better at it, though.


   
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Alan Green
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Ah, the Vulcan Death Grip - try to work away from it. For staying relaxed, check out Jamey Andreas's site at Guitar Principles dot com - amongst gazillions of other sites, but Jamey writes for us here.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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Topic starter  

Thanks for the help all.

Wes- I'll try out some of the stuff you mentioned and also possibly take just a few days off from any barre chords if problems persist. Thanks.

Alan- For warmup I usually start with a few stretches for both my wrists and then massage my left wrist for a little bit. Then I do some open and closed form scales for awhile followed by a few simple fingerpicking songs to get my right hand warmed up. Usually then I'll mess around for a bit with some easy songs which may or may not include barre chords before moving onto whatever I'm going to focus on.
Are there any special warmups that would be good for the barre chords?

Thanks again

so many places that are hard to see
so many places that aren't
so many places we want to be
so many times we are not


   
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causnorign
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Probably not what you want to hear, but if it hurts don't do it. Give the wrist some rest for a while so you don't do any real damage.


   
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corbind
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I've had wrist pain for a couple of years now. :evil: I stretch my hands and forearm muscles before playing. Helps a little.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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Thanks for the advice guys.
I'm going to try to limit my playing for awhile In the meantime doing some stretching and light weight lifting could only help right?

Thanks again

so many places that are hard to see
so many places that aren't
so many places we want to be
so many times we are not


   
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Rahul
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Ah, the Vulcan Death Grip - try to work away from it. For staying relaxed, check out Jamey Andreas's site at Guitar Principles dot com - amongst gazillions of other sites, but Jamey writes for us here.

A :-)

I just now realized that I have been a long time sufferer of the 'Vulcan death grip'. Oh my hand... :oops:


   
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