Need Help Dealing with Hand Cramps

June 26, 2004 at 10:07 PM · Lately, my left hand -- the fleshy part right below the thumb -- has become really tight when I practice, especially in high positions and doublestops. I'm guessing this is b/c I'm not relaxing my hand enough and/or have reverted to bad posture. Help please? thanks.

Replies (14)

June 26, 2004 at 10:34 PM · It sounds like you might be clutching and applying a lot of thumb pressure. Try playing with the scroll against a wall and without letting your thumb touch the fingerboard. Just let your whole hand relax.

This is something I did that really helped a ton with left hand tension.

June 27, 2004 at 02:14 AM · Kelsey's advice is good. Also, try doing some really relaxed Sevcik shifting practice, with as little finger and hand tension as you can possibly have. Forget about your sound quality for a few minutes and focus on getting your hand as relaxed as possible. Also, in high positions, try bringing your left elbow around the instrument more, this helps you keep your hand relaxed when you're playing those high screechy passages.

June 27, 2004 at 02:20 AM · One more thing: don't practice from cold. Warm your hands up (see recent thread on cold hands) beforehand, then bend both hands and fingers around in as many directions as you can for a couple of minutes before you start to play. Then apply the above tips.

June 27, 2004 at 03:25 AM · Greetings,

there are some exercises in Basics by Simon Fischer for relaxiung the thumb and making it more independent,



June 27, 2004 at 03:14 AM · Ellen,

Just question: do you use shoulder rest and what kind?

Maybe, something will help you from this list:

1) you need to lower height of your shoulder rest from the left side(under chin rest);

2) if you don't use shoulder rest, try shoulder pad;

3) check your chin rest (any tension in jow and shoulder leads to tense in hands);

4) practice on pianissimo (pretend you have disgraceful neighbours);

5) check your thumb position: across which finger it rests, and where you place it, when you shift hand in high positions? You can hold it under the neck of the violin, or you can slide along the right side of the fingerboard, or slide along violin's right side. Try all ways and find which way gives you more flexibility and comfort. Good luck to you.

June 27, 2004 at 06:25 AM · I've had that tightening left hand fleschy part thumb problem too when dealing with tense playing and learning during my private lessons. What my teacher told me to do was to let my thumb relax back a little bit instead of clutching onto the neck and curving it so much. It helped.

June 27, 2004 at 09:05 AM · Greetings,

sometimes students are not awrae that the purpose of the thumb is to provide counter pressusre upwards to the fingers rather than crossways. making sure this point is clear can help,



March 22, 2005 at 09:01 PM · Hi. I've had exactly the same problem for the last 6 months. It started when I tried to play the bach double and found that, although I'd been able to play it fine 4 years ago, I couldn't even make it through the 1st movement without having to stop. There definitely isn't a problem with my thumb gripping too hard, as I can easily play with my thumb not touching the neck for ages. Are there any suggestions of stretches or something that could help? It seems like I'm not the only one in this predicament! Thanks.


March 22, 2005 at 10:12 PM · I have that problem sometimes when I start playing/practicing without warming up. When I started shifting and doing vibrato, the area under my thumb became sore and hurt. My left hand was not relaxed. It was extremely tense. That was when I discovered the true reason for scales and arpeggios. They relax me and get me acostumed to listening for pitch and shifting, plus get my vibrato warmed-up.

March 22, 2005 at 10:57 PM · A while back I read a challenge in this forum that asked whether I knew where my thumb attached to my hand. Realizing that the thumb actually attaches to the wrist changed both how I perceived and used my thumb, and took away certain tensions. I am reading a couple of people referring to the fleshy part BELOW their thumb, but it is actually PART of the thumb. It's the bottom-most joint. Knowing this might make a subtle difference in how you use your thumb and thus take away some of the tensions.

March 23, 2005 at 01:40 PM · How much coffee or caffeine do you intake? Sometimes if you drink too much (if this applies to you) your hand can easily cramp up even though you may have sound technique...just a thought...

April 11, 2005 at 09:31 PM · Hi all.

Just a quick thought, I've found that exercising my hands with Chinese exercise balls (small metal balls with chimes inside) has hugely increased my finger strength and has lessened the cramps I had before, which used to prevent me playing for more than half an hour.

I'd definitely recommend them to anyone else who's struggling with cramps.


April 11, 2005 at 09:38 PM · Hi,

Sophie, did you notice the can you opened?


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