#1
Hey guys,

I've been playing gig after gig recently, more than ever before in my life. I've gotten to the point where I'm performing wednesday through sunday on top of practicing for at least 1.5 hours every day. I've started to develop a nasty cramp in my left hand in the meat between my thumb and index finger. I've been toning down my practicing a little bit and spending more time warming up but is there anything else I can do to soothe this?

I normally start out okay but by the end of the night,extended barre chords are pretty painful.
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#2
pain means stop.

Id go back and look at how your hand posture is. Are you holding the neck correctly? How about the strings? Getting alright?

One thing we did in track was ice after a rigorous practice. Although, since it's only your hand on pain, you don't need to bathe in ice.

Start taking some glucosamine, it helps joints build.

But ultimately, you may just need a break.
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#3
drink more water. drink less alcohol. eat more bananas.
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#5
On top of what everyone else has said already, you should be as relaxed as possible when you're playing. Tension robs you of speed and accuracy, and also leads to repetitive stress injuries, such as the one you're suffering from right now.
#7
Take a look also at your technique to make sure you aren't pressing any harder than you need to fret the strings.

I used to kill my hands, especially since I would anchor my hand a lot using my thumb on the back of the neck. Once I started forcing myself to use more finesse, my playing got smoother and less painful. Something to try, anyway.

Another technique I've used involves finding the easiest/simplest chord fingerings that get the job done. If you are playing rock music, you might not want to form complex chords that use all four fingers. Why use a complex and tiring chord shape when a power chord will do? I routinely do this to save energy and/or make it easier to play live after a few beers. In a live situation the listener won't miss much if any at all. Try to minimize all unecessary movement to make your efforts most efficient.
#8
wow sorry, UG just doesn't give me email notifications anymore...

My hand posture is very good or I think the pain would be a lot worse. I hold the neck correctly and I use .12 gauge strings on my acoustic and .10 on my electric, no custom heavy end or anything. I'll start icing some, I really don't have time for a break until thanksgiving.

As for the water, alcohol and bananas...college athlete. Already done.

to :-D I might not be getting a full warm up. I slowly run through all the modes across three octaves twice using index, middle, ring and once using only my thumb. Then I do some awkward exercises where I'll move my fretted index and ring down a string to two separate frets and then after my middle and pinky. Kind of hard to explain. That's about it though.

I'm pretty relaxed as a whole except for one song where I need to hold the same barre on an F for about 4 minutes. It starts to kill me by the end. Hurrah for musicals.

I'm not super worried about hand position or posture, I've worked pretty hard on it and I see a private instructor weekly who used to correct me when I first started with him. I probably could lay off the pressure a little bit though, I tend to grip harder than I need to.


For my jazz shows I should be able to take some of the voices out but for my musical thurs-sunday nights it's all scored.

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'd be welcome to any warm up or other advice. Posture does seem like a reasonable problem but I'm pretty confident about mine.
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#9
If your playing is at that level then I have a feeling you know your own posture pretty well and aren't making any kind of rookie mistakes like gripping too hard or having the actions of you guitars set too high.

If you have increased your overall practice/playing time then it may just be your hand muscles revolting from the increased workout.

On the other hand if you start to exhibit any of the following symptoms -

muscle type pain running the length of your inner forearm
numbness of the fingers
sharp pain in the elbow
problems like having occasional difficulty turning door knobs or involuntary dropping items

then you need to see a physician.

My advice to you is to cut your practice time down for a couple of weeks and see if that helps.
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Last edited by BlackbirdPie at Nov 11, 2011,
#10
Quote by Artemis Entreri
except for one song where I need to hold the same barre on an F for about 4 minutes.

Are you over exaggerating, or being serious? I mean does the chord literally have to sustain for 4 minutes? Otherwise you can just release and re-apply pressure. A bit like the song Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, that's all barre chords.

When I started learning barre chords, that song was my goal to be able to play.
I've started to develop a nasty cramp in my left hand in the meat between my thumb and index finger. I've been toning down my practicing a little bit and spending more time warming up but is there anything else I can do to soothe this?

Yeah, that cramp is nasty, you should take a break, and it maybe something known as fatigue.

It could be down to technique, something I remedied pretty quickly, as long as you spot it pretty quickly. I was practicing a Alex Machacek style lick a few years ago and this happened.
Last edited by mdc at Nov 11, 2011,
#11
Quote by mdc
Are you over exaggerating, or being serious? I mean does the chord literally have to sustain for 4 minutes? Otherwise you can just release and re-apply pressure. A bit like the song Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, that's all barre chords.

When I started learning barre chords, that song was my goal to be able to play.

Yeah, that cramp is nasty, you should take a break, and it maybe something known as fatigue.

It could be down to technique, something I remedied pretty quickly, as long as you spot it pretty quickly. I was practicing a Alex Machacek style lick a few years ago and this happened.


UG really needs to work on emailing me...I got this one almost a month late...

But no, I'm serious. I arpeggiate an Fsus4 and an F alternating for 4 minutes. Yay musicals right? It's under a bunch of dialogue and action.

I'm pretty sure it was just sheer fatigue now that I'm done playing the musical. I think that on top of my other shows and practicing was just too much. My hand is doing fine now. Thanks for all the advice though!
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

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#12
Was there a bass playing the F? If so you could of made life easier by playing a smaller voicing. With good musical knowledge you should be able to avoid stressful situations on a physical level.

-
---6-----6
--5-5---5-5
-8---8-7---7
-
-
#13
Quote by mdc
Was there a bass playing the F? If so you could of made life easier by playing a smaller voicing. With good musical knowledge you should be able to avoid stressful situations on a physical level.

-
---6-----6
--5-5---5-5
-8---8-7---7
-
-


I was the only instrument playing and I was given specific notation to play, otherwise I'd have changed it. I'm a 4th year music major so I have the knowledge, this was fairly unavoidable as it was scored.
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#14
Was it the barre chord at the 1st fret and did you have to arpeggiate across all six strings?
#15
Quote by mdc
Was it the barre chord at the 1st fret and did you have to arpeggiate across all six strings?


Basically, I had to sustain the F on the E string, do a series of notes on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings with an Fsus and then sustain the F and do the same for the unsuspended. Easy for about a minute but difficult after 4 on an acoustic with medium strings.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

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#16
That's tough. Could've used a capo, but if the progression moved to an open E...