Left bicep pain

February 14, 2005 at 06:45 AM · Greetings everyone. I've recently picked up the violin again after a good while, and have tried to focus on holding the instrument correctly and releasing tension. Just when I think everything's "lined up," though, I find that pain quickly develops in my upper left bicep, and forces me to stop playing and put the instrument down every few minutes. The muscle feels strained and exhausted, like it's sustained unnecessary tension in an awkward position. Do I just need to build strength in this muscle because it hasn't been used that way in a while, or do you think there's a technical problem at work here?

Replies (10)

February 15, 2005 at 09:31 AM · Pain in the corpus of the Biceps means tendon sufferance(where muscle is attached to bone)For biceps, either at the shoulder or in the hollow of the elbow.This kind of acute tendonitis that belong to the wild group of shoulder periarthritis which is frequent in the (non- violonistic) feminine population after 45 years old.

The pain occurs in contrary movement ie if you try to lift your arm while some push on your hand the pain appears in the shoulder. Violin might be a cause of contrary movement. More specifically all tension ,psychological or postural(neck,shoulder,finger,especially thumb) might be the cause .They are many post on the subject

February 15, 2005 at 05:06 PM · Adding on, I'd say the problem could be caused by an old injury or possibly a pinched brachial nerve. I can't say I've ever experienced uncomfortable pain in the bicep area, but I have had problems with lactic acid building up in my neck and shoulder (after long sessions). When you are not practicing, you may want to experiment by playing 'air violin' to see if you can reproduce the sensation you experience. Then you can systematically eliminate the causes. It is possible that the source of fatigue is that your arm is not used to playing. Give it some time... your muscles probably remember the motions better than you do. No kidding!

In the meantime, a warm compress or a deep-heating topical ointment may help with the pain. Hope this helps!

February 15, 2005 at 07:41 PM · I've just begun playing the violin again after a ten-year gap. Playing again totally exhausted me at first. I was pretty shocked at how much muscle I lost over the years. When I first started getting serious again, I could only handle an hour at a stretch--and that with little breaks here and there. After six months I was back up to four hours a day. I still take little breaks every fifteen to twenty minutes. I think it helps my practice to take a breather (even if it's only for a couple of minutes).

Being a runner, I recognized my "pains" as a muscular issue. Sometimes it is difficult to know, but hopefully you're in touch with your body enough to know which kinds of pain are okay and which are not. When I'm getting back to running after a break, I have to "go back to square one" again. I can usually only handle a little--a half mile or so. If I try to do more, I risk an injury, and that's not worth it. I deal with what I can and gradually work up until I'm running my ten miles a day.

You should not expect more from yourself than your muscles can handle because you may risk an injury. But, I think over time, you'll build those muscles, and after a month or so, you'll find you can handle a lot more.

February 15, 2005 at 08:07 PM · Hi!

I think I'm suffering from the pain you are suffering. It's the pain from not used to doing that amount of exercise. I've got it in my arm because I had my right hand on my right shoulder the whole of yesterday trying to hold my bag!

I get that when it's the start of the new term of ballet and I wake up the next day with aches and pains. The funny thing is that I only go once a week and even still my body has adjusted to that once a week strenuous exercise.

As people before me suggested, warm up your muscles in your arm before playing the violin just as like you're warming up before playing football or something like that. This prevents pulling your muscles. Before playing the violin, do some arm exercises; stretching your left arm to the right and vice versa. Do some 'swimming' actions and 'weight lifting' actions so that you are bending at the elbow.

Also, it may be of help if you do some stretches jsut after you finish playing the violin to let the muscles work down slowly; just like you would do by going from running to jogging to walking before you stop.

Hope the pain goes!

One-Sim :)

February 18, 2005 at 12:09 AM · Thank you all for your responses, which I've found very helpful. James, you made me recall an injury I sustained to both rotator cuffs as the result overdoing it at the gym a few years ago. At your suggestion I did try the "air violin" and had the same trouble holding my arm in position--I wonder if that area is still tender. I also agree with Kimberlee, One-Lim, and June that I need to go back to square one and build the muscle again, taking frequent breaks. And June, you're right about finding a teacher, for that and many other reasons. I'm definitely looking! Thanks again to you all--


February 18, 2005 at 02:02 AM · Greetings,

I don`t know what treatment you had at the time but I would guess you need to get some kind of check up and then some very specific exercises. If you do a google search on the Internet you can find good Rotator cuff sites by groups like the American Medical Association (or somehting like thta). They illsutarte veyr simple exercises that will help I think.

A good book on this is `The musician as Athlete` but it may be out of print now. I recently quoted an exercise using elastic to strengthen a crucail muscles near the rotator cuff. You might be able to find it.



February 18, 2005 at 02:03 AM · Greetings,

sorry, I easily found my quote by searching for `rotator cuff` on this site. The ecxercise I quote can be found in a long and heated exchgange between Lisa Marsik and myself on the subject in one of those threads.



February 19, 2005 at 02:42 AM · Thanks for the info, Buri. I'm not sure that's the problem, but I'll certainly look into it. I really should be able to hold up my arm for longer than a few minutes!


April 1, 2005 at 12:04 AM · What angle do you hold your violin at? Is it more out to the side or in front of you? Have you tried experimenting with holding the violin at different angles? Also, maybe you could start off by playing in higher positions to bring your arm closer to your body (giving your muscles an easier job of holding up your arm against gravity). Good luck!

April 1, 2005 at 12:57 AM · i have this same problem was just about to post the same question!.... i haven't taken a long break from playing in a while and don't play any sports that could trigger this- with me, it's pretty much 15- 20 minutes, then the pain starts... i've tried holding my violin different ways, stretching before and in between practicing, and nothing seems to work- i'm thinking it could be tension from maybe "clutching" the neck of the violin with my thumb and not being loose enough- unfortunately, i can't find out how to solve this- everytime i try loosening my thumb, it works for a few minutes, but then goes back to clutching... any advice?

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