Problem of having cold hands, becoming inflexible, slow and insensible

March 30, 2009 at 03:21 PM ·

I think everybody have this kind of problem sometimes. When your hands are cold, it is very unfavourable and difficult to practise. The fingers become very inflexible, slow and insensible.

I think most of the time its caused by the cold weather.

How would you do when you face this problem?

Replies (21)

March 30, 2009 at 06:22 AM ·

I used to put my hands in warm water. Is this a good method?

March 30, 2009 at 05:47 PM ·

A life saver!

Hand warmers!  You shake them and put them in your pocket.  Great for on stage... plus, they  keep your hands dry.

You can purchase them at this website or at any local drug store.  They are awesome.

(portable heaters are great for home use)

I agree. Cold hands are no fun...

March 30, 2009 at 06:34 PM ·

and these really do work too...

I buy a bunch each year  (seasonal) at Walgreens Drug Store...99 cents for two warmers

March 30, 2009 at 07:34 PM · I have this problem a lot. I have used the "shaker" warmers, but they can only warm your hands in-between playing. Keeping a basin of hot water next to my practice area keeps my hands warmer longer. Plus, getting them wet and warm at the same time somehow loosens up the stiffness better? I experimented this year with "wristies", but I think they may cramp up my 4th finger and make my bow arm lessfluid. The short ones aro.k.


March 30, 2009 at 11:53 PM ·

I know where you come from...  I have complained about this more than my turn on this site... lol!   I have a chronic freezing hands problem!   I do not have fingers, I have siberian (no, canadian in my case) icicles even in summer!  The most effective tools:

jump, run do anything that increase your heart rate just before playing!  It really works a long time if you are lucky, 30 mins if you are like me!

of course the hand warmers for winter sports that have been mentioned by the others are great but you can't have them all time...

Hot water is not effective for me.  Lasts 5 sec...

Someone here told to put your hands on you neck!  Yes the neck is always hot because many blood has to go to your brain but is it ennough?  Not sure

A very effective thing is to close my eyes and breath slowly imaginating that my hands are warm...  I never believed those who talked about meditation before but I must admit it works...  You lose less time by doing this than doing scales for 5 hours even if it can not remplace scales!

A last hint, I often notice that local things put on the hands last shorter than global things that warm up all your body like exercise or meditation.  I believe it's harder to "push" blood in the hands for a long time than to push blood everywhere including your hands.  

Good luck!  I know what you mean... and hope you will find a solution!

PS: Ginger works find for many, for me, I can't say it worked long!


March 31, 2009 at 12:01 AM ·

Warming hands by putting them in armpits where blood vessels are close to the surface is OK. You can get seizures from chilling your neck arteries, but I don't think indoor-cold hands are cold enough to do this. When ice-climbing in winter.e used to whirl our arms around to force warm blood into the chilled extremities. Maybe not the best method for someone holding a violin. If you're old and getting arthritic, using a warm paraffin bath can really help your hands, but you have to be careful not to set the stuff on fire. Fifteen minutes of soaking in the hot wax, then peeling it off, can make a huge difference in your flexibility.

March 31, 2009 at 03:41 AM ·

 Warm water= soggy fingers= problem. At least from my experience.

hand warmers+warmth+dry hands= solution.   (in between playing- YES, because while you're playing, they will stay warm, especially if they start warm because of the hand warmer).


 Of course, movement, exercise is helpful. And meditation is always great.

March 31, 2009 at 05:41 AM ·

Well, how about we combine a couple of things already mentioned, and add some.

Those pocket warmers are great, but there are also some called 'Thermacare' that are designed for wearing on the back. Put one of them on the small of your back, and it will warm you quite a bit. For those smaller ones, you may try 'wristies' with one of them under the wrist (maybe make certain it is loose enough to not cramp). The warm water is good (great actually; it also warms my wife's hands and reduces significant joint stiffness), but it also dries the skin. Keeping the skin lubricated may also help keep it warm.

One thing I also use for warming achy joints that may work for warming hands; Salonpas ( They are flexible, can be worn under clothing, and if you put one on your wrist, I would suspect it will keep your hand warmer. At the minimum, it should keep you more limber.

March 31, 2009 at 07:15 AM ·

Kreisler => dip your hands in a bowl of hot water and then dry them off (of course)

Carl Flesch => Practice fingered octaves for ten minutes....probably AFTER warming up your hands.  I dunno if I would do this one as a warmup like he suggests or not if it were cold, I feel like I'd want to warm up before fingered octaves. 

Personally I just wear a sweater and at home heat the particular room I'm practicing in.  If a room is seriously underheated you should consider practicing carefully (as in be careful and also consider taking the day off). 

March 31, 2009 at 11:41 AM ·

enjoyed the above suggestions.  we play winter golf , so can testify to the necessity and benefits of those hand warmers...they go strong even after 10 hours!

the other thing we have noticed is that when the feet are kept warm, the hands tend to be stay warm, so the kids sometimes wear couple layers of socks. 

i noticed that the poster is from hong kong, a place with very humid hot summer and cool winter.  in the summer months, the ac indoors can be very cold and in the brief winter months, it is chilly all over since most homes do not have elaborate heating system. 

besides those "external factors", i would also consider an internal factor.  (if the poster is male, my apology) imo,  females tend to have this problem more often,, not sure it is genetic or hormonal or a reflection of general physical conditioning status, etc.   in fact, my older daughter used to be like that.  with an exercise conditioning program, some emphasis on nutrition, i think her overall physical reconstitution has improved and her hands are better conditioned as well in that respect.  probably has something to do with the neurogenic control  of  the peripheral blood flow in reaction to a better modulated central system...

the other aspect not necessarily related to this case can be psychological where stress can lead to erratic autonomic nervous system discharge, causing neurogenic changes in the hands with vasoconstriction. 

a good cure for all of the above is to hike the victoria peak, soak in the view along the way and then come down to aberdeen for seafood every weekend:)

March 31, 2009 at 12:22 PM ·

 Joseph- That was BEFORE the great invention of hand warmers! lol :-)

Seriously, though, I did the warm water thing before playing/performing before I discovered these little warmers.  

Helpful, just don't have them under too long. I just noticed a change in shifting until totally dry. Right before a concert that freaks me out a little. Practicing at home, it's fine. 

I suppose I'm strictly speaking before going on stage. At home, I do use warm water.   

March 31, 2009 at 12:50 PM ·

Rub the backs of your forearms vigorously for 10 seconds or so, then the other side.

This will warm up the hands and the muscles that work the fingers from the inside, and can be repeated easily and often.


March 31, 2009 at 07:43 PM ·

I find holding (and then drinking) a steaming cup of hot chocolate beforehand does the trick - warms your fingers up and keeps you warm on the inside too!  Take a thermos along for when you are out of the house :)

April 1, 2009 at 06:25 AM ·

Got a cat? No? Get a cat.
Description: Automated walking heater, no electricity needed.
Expire date: Around 7-10yr
Cost: Depends on the size you want.

Just kidding, I agree with Julia, instead of dipping your hand in hot water, I'd rater hold it and drink it. (And hug my cat in between practice to keep it warm.)

April 2, 2009 at 08:20 PM ·

The problem is not only on me, but also on many people. So you dont actually need to focus on Im from hongkong.

And by the way, I am now in Austria, thats why I find this problem more serious.

I'm not sure if I can buy those hand warmers here in Austria. I will go to supermarket and look for it.

thanks anyway.

I agree that keeping the foots also warm could help the hands warm.

April 3, 2009 at 04:49 AM ·

If you can't find the handwarmers, here's a little trick.
(borrowed from a Backcountry Skiing reference...).
NOTE: Add less water for better temperature control.

take 25 grams of iron filings or powder and mix it with one gram of sodium chloride (table salt) in a ziplock bag then shake it to mix it. then you add a tablespoon of charcoal or sawdust and shake to mix again. seal this in an airtight jar or else the iron will oxidize. to activate, put the amount you want in a ziplock bag and ad about a teaspoon of water. squeeze and shake the mixture until it gets hot. It can get extremely hot and if you get the amounts of chemicals perfectly right, it'll last a few hours.

April 3, 2009 at 03:48 PM ·

I warm up my hands by soaking them in the hottest water I can stand.  When I lived up North, I would soak up to my elbows in the kitchen sink.  Adding Epsom salts is very inexpensive, and they can help loosen things up.

As for cats,

Description:  Portable fuzzy thermal heaters that purr.

Expiration Date:  They better last longer than 10 years...

Cost:  $2000 in vet bills last fall, due to potentially deadly infections. 

Added Bonus:  When you start petting them with cold icy hands, they give you the dirtiest look you could imagine, and then they start to wash themselves.

April 5, 2009 at 04:34 AM ·

If you're in Aus, that's even better, you can buy one of those small stuffed pillow like thing.. (I bought one I think in 2 dollar shop), it claims that you can heat it up in microwave for around 1- 2 minutes, it becomes hot hot hot, lasts for at least 20 minutes.

April 7, 2009 at 01:37 AM ·

If your cold hands are caused by circulatory problems one of the best things you could possibly take is cayenne pepper. This herb is perhaps the single best thing for the circulation - ever! If you take 2 or 3 capsules of this stuff per meal you can kiss cold hands goodbye forever, cold weather or not. On top of that cayenne is a great heart herb. Don't buy it in the health food store if you can help it because they almost always overcharge for all their products. It's much better to order online. One of the best (and cheapest) places to go is Swanson Vitamins, but also places like iHerb and Vitacost are great sources too.

If your cold hands are caused by nerves then try herbs like Valerian Root, Kava, or Scullcap (sometimes spelled Skullcap). Also exercise will help a lot with nerves if this is the problem. A good B-Complex vitamin might be in order too. Good luck! 

June 23, 2009 at 04:35 PM ·


I had that same problem...

What helps me is hot water, then cold water again, hot, cold and so on ending with cold water. Then I throw my arms around my body, so that the blood ends up in my fingers, until they get red. Then I start playing thirds.


June 28, 2009 at 07:51 PM ·

I'll be doggoned, found out there are medical problems that cause cold hands from heart and circulation problems all the way to bladder problems. In many cases cold fingers were secondary to something else.


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