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Microphone Month 2

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RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)


Has anyone ever suffered an RSI in either hands due to guitar practice or performance? I have recently been laid low by RSI in my left hand. I awoke one morning last week and it felt like a small pebble was lodged in the middle of my left palm, knuckles were sore, hand was actually swollen and I could hardly open or close the hand. Talk about post-poning practice sessions! I was really unpleasantly surprised.
Any comments, educated advice or guidance from someone who has had a similiar experience would be deeply appreciated. And... I would also simply love to hear your opinion and thoughts about correct practice principles.
August 10, 2001 @07:02pm
R Whittington

Hi Dejadude,
I haven't suffered long term from anything like that, but I will say that not enough attention is payed to developing good warm up habits in general. I'm actually surprised I haven't had a problem by now. It's something that I don't consciously think about. When I perform...I just start playing. Depending on my mood, sometimes as hard as I can. I take better care of my voice than I do my hands in that regard. It probably wouldn't take more than playing a few scales and picking excercises to combat the problem. But if you're simply playing for hours and hours a day...not much you can do about that. But you will develop good chops
August 11, 2001 @03:56pm

Hey... I REALLY appreciate the comments on THIS one. I have only been playing for around 4 months now, but I have had experienced guitarists in my area (England for the time being) comment on how quickly I seem to be learning. I don't think I am anything special when it comes to learning ability. I think it has just had a lot to do with me practicing around 9 hours a day! My target has been (and still is) the Steve Vai 10 Hour Guitar Aerobics Program. But... as I am inexperienced, I have ended up injuring myself although I am starting to recover. The majority of my left hand is pretty good now, but my little finger and the ligament leading from it down through my palm is still very sensitive. I am still managing to get in around 2 to 3 hours a day without TOO much pain. I don't practice or play THROUGH the pain any longer. I have had A LOT to learn about how much pressure need be applied to the strings of a guitar. I play an Ibanez Jem 77FP, which I love. Putting that instrument into the hands of a few experienced players has erased any ideas in my mind that something might be wrong with my guitar. I simply want to acquire the tools I know can only come through a lot of practice... like intricate precision and accuracy in technique. Not that I would be interested in Shredding ALL of the time, just some of the time ;). I have just sent off for a book which looks very interesting called the Athletic Musician, which appeals to me as I have been involved in competitive bodybuilding and done plenty of powerlifting. I also spent a few years in the US Army which turned me into a bit of a die hard drive it into the ground individual. I am learning to lighten up a lot. I am finding it is just about the only way to play clean and with any speed or real precision at all. Thanks again, Richard, for your comments on this. Any further comments from anyone would be deeply appreciated. I really don't want to end up in this situation again. I just want to practice and get out there and play!
August 11, 2001 @05:15pm
R Whittington

Be very careful with this type of injury... ever hear of Mark St John? Back around'85 or so he landed a pretty cool gig with KISS...a few weeks before they set off to tour Europe, he came down with an arthritic condition in his left hand.. lots of pain and swelling. Sounds a little like what you've described. Needless to say he couldn't carry on and was replaced. You might want to seek out a physician...these injuries can be really hard to overcome, especially while you're still practicing.
August 12, 2001 @04:29am

Hey Dr. Groove... thanks for your comments and insight. The Steve Vai 10 Hour Guitar Workout Program was originally printed in the December 1991 issue of Guitar World. It is more general than specific as to what to do with those 10 hours, however, there are some good exercise examples printed. But I feel that I have learned (the hard way) that as long as the guitar is treated more as a delicate instrument rather than a Jack Hammer and your hands, fingers, etc are respected along with the guitar and strict attention are given to discovering the minimal amount of pressure necessary in order to sound a note clearly, then there should be no problem. Having said that, with that lengthy of a program, I see the importance of a 5 to 10 minute break every 30 to 45 minutes or so, depending on the actual physical demand of the session. Yes... I agree that a good teacher would be an advantage to me, especially at this stage, but it just doesn't appear to be in the cards right now. I am totally re-evaluating my whole program though, and feel I can work through all of this and progress as I need to. I am already healing. Hooray! Thanks again for your feedback. Its people like you who help us beginners move into the realms of intermediate performers and finally advanced professionals. I appreciate that. Thanks a lot.
August 15, 2001 @05:28pm

Hey Dr. Groove...
Thanks for your thoughts and positive support. I'm paying very close attention to my practice methods now. I imagine I could have gotten away with less attention if I had been practicing a little less, but with so many hours accumulating so quickly, it catches up quick. Which I take to be a blessing. It woke me up sooner than later. And considering that I'm 44 years old... well... I wish I had some info on professional successful guitarists who got late starts in life and how they overcame the obstacles. I want to succeed as a performer. I don't have anything against becoming an educator, but I would rather succeed in the industry as a performer and then get into earning a Masters or Doctorate in Music. I have been in Music College and saw too many educators longing for the stage but not being in the circumstances to go ahead and do it or simply thinking it was too late for them. But the end all and be all for me is being out there and performing. It is the greatest challenge I can think of in my life. I have walked across hot burning coals barefooted... jumped out of perfectly good airplanes at 12,000 feet and too many other things I can't mention... but to REALLY succeed in this industry as a performer... wow... what a life achievement. I want to inspire others to understand that it is never too late to truly succeed in whatever it is that you love enough and dream is possible. Don't bury me until this happens. Again... thanks again. Keep on groovin'!
August 15, 2001 @11:57pm