I've been stepping up my playing lately and practicing a whole lot more for my bands second album. I've noticed two things, the guitarist tells me to slow down and I have the most horrible pains in my forearm from picking so rapidly. I've worked on changing me technique but I still have massive knots in my arm that tense backup when I play. I've been rubbing the shit out of it and it seems to be going away, but is there anything else I can do to stop this from happening other then correcting my hand positions and rubbing the muscle?
Without seeing you actually play, I am going to make some assumptions and suggestions.

1. You may be gripping the pick too hard when you play faster. Try relaxing a tad and your muscles won't tense in your arm.
2. You may have your bass too low on your body. Try shortening your strap and see if that helps.
ice for sure rub your arm with ice til it is numb then stop and let all the blood run back in thats ultimately what will heal it, 2nd if it gets bad enough you might want a massage therapist to give you a deep tissue massage, 3rd take frequent breaks as soon as it starts hurting stop, you have to give your forearm a break.

EDIT:if you start having wrist pains go to a massage therapist if it moves to your wrist its not muscles its tendonitis which is terrible, trust me im currently dealing with it right now.
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Last edited by Jman09 at Sep 10, 2010,
I've been doing everything you've listed but the ice. I'm pretty sure I';m just holding on to the pick to hard. I've been trying to relax, almost pee'd myself. I tend to drop the pick a lot too, thats always been my problem through, sweaty fingers drop picks, so I started holding on to it a lot tighter, it used to be so bad that the pick would rotate a few times in my fingers by the time the song ended, so it's a double edged sword, either I'm dropping my pick or my arm's killing me. I have been using picks with grips at the end and that's helping a tiny bit but I keep thinking that I should just cheat and tape the ****er to my thumb, but my inner non-idiot is telling me that'd be a bad idea that would just inhibit me later on. So ice, rub downs, arm stretches and relaxed picking seemed to be the way to go for now. Is there any kind of vitamin that might help with this too? I've been pounding back fruit and water in hope that there is.
If your fingers sweat, consider using an antiperspirant on your hands. One of the drummers I play with has hyperhidrosis and this helps during long extended sessions in keeping the sweaty palms at bay.
I do, read something in some guitar magazine awhile ago about how to stretch before practice, it doesn't seem to help much. The pains located way up in the forearm.
I actually get the same problem, except the pain is more in my wrist than my forearm. Like what's been said before try and relax a bit more and try some lighter picks, like Dunlop nylons or something. I'm more of a fingerstyle player and only very occasionally use a pick.
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That pain in your forearm is nothing to take lightly. It is probably your radial nerve, and if you screw it up that can cause you excruciating pain all the way up your arm and into your neck. Your playing days will be over for a very long time while you try to heal. Plenty of ultra-speed shred guitarists can attest to this.

A solution to pain caused by your pick grip seems to be to use a very thick pick. A company called V-Pick makes a big fat pick that many players - guitar and bass - claim is not only much easier to hold onto but eliminates hand and forearm pain as well:


It might be worth a try.
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I used to have the same problem holding the pick too tightly, it can hurt a lot. If your having trouble adjusting to softer grip, I'd recommend using this:


It's a grip enchancer type thing. It's like a paste and you out it onto your pick and hold it for like a minute and it dries, which gives a kind of rough surface, which is easier to grip.
I always use it for gigs, but using it when practicing can help to adjust your grip without dropping the pick all the time.

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use your fingers?

I do use m y fingers when I messing around, sometimes I even attempt to play our speedy thrash with them. But theres speeds I can't yet get to. And picks give that punk rock tone. Anyways, lighter picks rubbed with speedstick and some rubbing's done the trick in about 3 days. Thanks UG.
Don not try to massage, stretch or ice-bag your way out of this! Your playing shouldnt hurt you, it means you're doing it wrong. Learn to play in a relaxed way that doesn't hurt, or don't play. For picks with an insanely good grip i recommend cactus picks http://cactuspicks.com/ ). Don't just squeeze harder until your arm falls off, you might injure yourself badly on the long run.

Practice playing relaxed.
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If your guitarist is telling you to slow down then you need to think about slowing down. You sound as if the adrenaline is kicking in a little and you just go for it. The key to speed is to play steady and this is what you should be practising. Get a metronome/or drum machine and practice your patterns at a slow speed gradually building up. If you do this consistently you will get faster over a period of weeks and months but without (much) pain and in a way which will help your music.

The pain could be a trapped nerve/tendonitis/arthritis but I suspect cramp is the problem. If you are pain free at first and it builds up slowly then you probably are just getting tired. Try this, hold your hand straight above your head as if asking a question in class. Now clench and unclench your hand as quickly as possible in one minute. Bet that was harder than you expected! Elevating your arm reduces the blood flow and you accumulate lactic acid in your muscles as a result making the painful tired feeling. Tension will create the same result when you are playing so relax.

I can't hang on to those fiddly bits of plastic either. Try the sharks fin ones and try roughing them up with sand paper.
A couple of things...

If you are holding the pick too tightly, that can cause cramping in your wrist/forearm. Lighten up your grip.

I've noticed that if I hold my wrist stiff and use my upper arm and elbow for the picking motion, I experience a lot less fatigue.

Also, this sounds weird, but try changing what finger you hold your pick with. Most people hold it with their thumb and index finger. Try holding it with your thumb and middle finger.
I agree with trying a pick that has grip to it. I use 1mm sanrling dog picks on the occasion I use a pick. Pretty much saying whats been said but sounds like your too tense when playing fast. I honestly can paly a hell of a lot faster with my fingers than a pick. Basically have 4 picks using your fingers vs the one pick you hold. You can eq your bass to get that pick sound while using your fingers if you continue to have issues using a pick. Pain is somthing you dont want to ignore, means your doing somthing wrong. Only pain you should ever get are on your finger tips from fretting your instrument if you dont have callouses.