Anyone else ever had persistant finger strain issues?
So ever since recovering from 2 month tendonitis in my middle fretting finger I have, on and off, had minor issues with finger strain (in all my fingers). Although for last few days I have had slighty more serious cases of it in my first 2 fingers and so hav not been playing. Its gone in my first finger and almost in my middle so Ill be back playing in 2 days or so...
Anyway. I've come to realise that this issue will persist unless I change my habits starting when I play again. So:
1) I have tuned my guitars down 1/2 a step to reduce string tension.
2)No more playing (largely shred stuff :? ) for hours on end. I will take a break every 40 or so minutes.
3) But. The biggest, toughest, yet most beneficial change - Im going to get into the habbit on not pushing on the frets so damn hard! Just before I took this break from playing I did realise that I definately put way more pressure down than is needed (or than is safe it seems). In theory however this should also faciliate faster and more fluent playing...so thats gonna be an incentive to persivere I hope.
So I dont really have a question as such. Im just wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation or anyone has any comments?
Not been in that position, but it's good that you're looking at ways of preventing it getting in the way. Did you talk to a physio about your playing yet?
How about your fretting hand position? This is a good time to be looking at where your fretting hand thumb is and how much effort your fingers have to put in to come down on the strings and keep them down.
I would suggest you'll need to build up to 40 minutes from something shorter. At the moment, your brain is making your other fingers work harder to "compensate" for the residual damage from your tendonitis. Take it easy for a while longer.
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I have never had problems with my fingers, but I have had a big problem with my thumb on my fretting hand. I think my problems started with doing big stretches like this:
I have always been more of a Blues type player using the Minor Pentatonic boxes or positions. I never had to make very big stretches. But I got caught up in wanting to play fast Metal type 3 notes per string runs and technique like this. The problem is my hands are not very large. Although I have good flexibility and stretch, runs like this are still very demanding on my hands. I practiced runs like this for many months and started to develop great pain in my thumb. It still bothers me. I have experimented with various positions with my thumb, that has helped somewhat. But I have finally come to realize that some techniques like this are just not suited for me physically. I have noticed that most (not all) of your really great shredders who use these techniques have large hands. So this is not that demanding on their hands as mine.
I have also tried to be very aware of stress and tension in my hands when I play. Like you, I am trying to develop a lighter touch. I have always been a big string bender, so it was natural for me to "muscle" the strings around. And you do have to use some force to bend strings. But on notes other than bends you do not need much force at all. So, I have been trying to develop as light a touch as possible. Lately, I have not had as much problems with my thumb. I also am not so concerned about mastering some of these speed techniques anymore.
Like Clint Eastwood said, "A man's gotta know his limitations." :D
If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis
lol. I think even if I do need larger hands that will never stop me from shredding :roll: Im just gonna have pray (if i were actually a religious man lol) that these changes in my habbits work
I think u maybe right, alan, about working up to 40mins.
I think you hit the nail on the head with item 3. Lighten up on the pressure. However, easier said than done. I work on it constantly by trying just to remember to lighten up. I also had a finger problem (still do) with my pinkie. I broke it and it never healed right and turns in the further I stretch it. I picked up a grip-rite exercise thing that fits in your palm and has 4 buttons on it with springs that you can exercise one finger at a time or all at once. Helps tremendously with finger strength and dexterity. And by the way the stronger my fingers feel the less pressure I feel like I am putting on the strings.
There is a side benefit of less pressure on the strings. You are less likely to pull a string out of tune.
I picked up a grip-rite exercise thing that fits in your palm and has 4 buttons on it with springs that you can exercise one finger at a time or all at once. Helps tremendously with finger strength and dexterity
Would something like definately help in getting rid of this persistant strain, isnt it possible it would simply add more strain? Like by the time I pick the guitar my fingers might have had the equivilant of an hours playing in strain?
Would something like definitely help in getting rid of this persistant strain, isnt it possible it would simply add more strain? Like by the time I pick the guitar my fingers might have had the equivilant of an hours playing in strain?
It will ultimately eliminate or reduce the strain simply because it builds the hand/fingers up. However, you don't want to do the exercise for any length of time then go right into playing. Do the exercise off times when you are not practicing. After you have built up the hand strength you can actually use the device to loosen up for 5 minutes or so before playing.
I have gotten to the point where I just use it a couple of times a week while I am watching TV or driving or any times like that.
I noticed you didn't mention changing to lighter strings - metal players usually use 9s or lighter in addition to detuning to D.
Also, try taking up classical guitar. That's what Randy Rhodes did. First, nylon strings and a wider neck changes how your fingers work. Classical also makes you focus on other techniques, such as sight reading, arpeggios, chords, etc.
Check your wrist and guitar neck position. Turning the neck so that you can see the fretboard causes all kinds of problems, especially with the thumb muscles. It's very easy to get out of position if you play on an armchair.
Here's some tips on the natural health side of things.
B vitamins, especially B3 (niacin) helps with carpal tunnel, and might help you (especially if your blood type is O).
Toxins, such as beer and recreational drugs, can build up and cause pain in the joints.
For this, I recommend detoxification (this is what Ozzy does a lot of).
Inflammation causes arthritis and joint pain. Natural anti-inflammatories include oils (I like Udo's oil), turmeric (curcumin), bromelain and digestive enzymes (especially if there is digestive problems).
Ben Gay does help and there are some natural upgrades (such as Joint Gel by Integrative Therapeutics).
Also try rest and ice (baseball pitchers dip their arm in a bucket of ice water after games), eat your veggies, plenty of sun, and lots of love from a good woman.
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Paper-in-oil caps rule!