Left hand cramps (fleshy part below pinky)

April 18, 2005 at 04:36 AM · I noticed that other discussions of nleft hand cramps have been kind of numerous, but I saw that most of them dealt with the part below the thumb. My problem is the area that would be facing the ground if you stuck out your hand to shake.

A couple of years ago, I started getting cramps in this part of my (left) hand whenever I would play. Over time, they would occur sooner and more painfully. I quit playing at the end of last year (not related, my school schedule didn't work). But, I am planning on playing in the last concert of the year (I am a senior). As I started practicing again, I noticed that the cramps were still there, and just as bad as ever. It is very hard to get any kind of decent practice in when your hand starts cramping after only 10 minutes of playing.

I know for a fact that for a couple of years now I have been perpetually dehydrated (I always have a hard time giving blood), so I have started drinking more water, and hopefully that will clear it up. But, in case it doesn't, does anyone have any suggestions on why I would be getting cramps in this part of my hand? Every other discussion seemed to focus on the part below the thumb. Same reasons?

Thank You.

Replies (10)

April 18, 2005 at 05:57 AM · Did you know that ounce for ounce, prunes have 3.67 times more potassium than bananas? An ounce of banana has 68 mg, 1 oz prunes has 252 mg. Potassium is helpful for preventing cramps. Eat prunes.

April 18, 2005 at 08:54 AM · Hi,

Mark, if it's hurting, then you are doing some error in movement. Hard to say anything without having seen you play though...

Cheers!

April 18, 2005 at 09:18 PM · Well, I live off Mexican Food, so I should be eating bananas anyway ;). I'll try that.

I'm going to have my old teacher take a look at my playing tomorrow, so hopefully he will notice if anything is wrong. I'm hoping more that it is something dietary than something technical, because I don't have a lot of time to get back into "shape".

Thanks all.

April 18, 2005 at 10:43 PM · Getting back in shape, however, is paramount to getting back into playing the instrument. Supposing that you have only an hour a day to devote to playing. If you spend 40 minutes of that on "shape" and 20 on going over stuff, some of the "shape" will impact on the material you're covering, and in no time at all the scales etc. that you've been practising will improve. But if you spend that same hour just playing, you'll be doing the same mistakes over and over again and not make the same kind of progress at all. If "shape" has something to do with your injury, then again getting through that part of it will be time well spent, even if it's a small amount of time each day.

It will be interesting to see what kind of feedback your old teacher gives you. Best of luck!

May 17, 2007 at 12:57 AM · Hm, I'm having the same kind of pain, especially when I do a lot of etudes that stretch the fourth finger (or even in octaves!)

Do you have an update on your condition? I was hoping I could find an answer before I go see a hand specialist!

Thanks so much!

May 17, 2007 at 01:28 AM · From a non medical layman's view it sopunds like the muscles or tendons are cramping up, not that you didn't know that. Get thee to an Orthopod before you do some damage.

May 17, 2007 at 08:48 AM · Jennifer,

I wonder if you're releasing the fingers after dropping them onto the fingerboard, or if you keep squeezing. Here's an exercise: play an open string (let's say an A) and then drop your fourth finger to play E. As soon as you hit the E, release your finger so it plays a harmonic. This is the feeling you should have when you drop your fingers onto the strings. After you're comfortable with this, try to replicate the feeling without changing the note (i.e. no harmonic) - that's what you're looking for.

Additionally, you might try doing a 'tension check' when playing some of the passages you mentioned: play an octave and keep your left hand in position. Take your right hand and feel what your left is doing. Is there unnecessary tension? Check the fingers that aren't on the string (are they stiff or can you move them without any resistance?), your thumb, squeeze your forearm gently, and of course check how tightly you're squeezing the fourth finger. How are your shoulders? Play the octave again, and then move to the next one. Repeat the whole exercise. It's tedious at first, but you do develop an awareness of what tension feels like, and how to release it. The more you do this, the less often you have to check.

Hope this helps!

May 17, 2007 at 09:28 AM · mark, if you really think that "you know for a fact" that you are habitually dehydrated (as opposed to an involuntary CIA maneuver), you need to see an endocrinologist asap because in comparison, the pinkie issue is, really, a pinkie issue. you can die if your blood volume is abnormally low or having an electrolyte inbalance,,,chronically. on a hot day, you can pass out and birds will eat you up.

after the doctor visit, you can read the following:)

i tend to agree with jennifer that you may have injured yourself with 4th finger overstretching. (the areas in question, the lesser thenar eminence, is designed to abduct the pinkie for etudes, but not 250 times in one shot).

whatever you did was too much for you. assuming your break had allowed you to heal, once you took up violin again, whatever you did, again, was too much for you. the old injury may have healed to some extent, but the pinkie abductor is still deconditioned--- so you are prone to reinjury.

slow down, listen to your pinkie (hello) and build on it.

but seriously, go to see a doctor man! get a good check up and an understanding of a dietary and fluid intake regimen. go now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 17, 2007 at 01:41 PM · I've taught a few students who kept the pinky tightly curled, even to the point of digging the nail into the hand in the palm or at the pinky base, and only brought it up and out when they (suddenly?) realized they needed to use it. This makes for all kinds of tension in that area and laterally across the hand, makes 3rd finger's contact off, too. Sue

May 17, 2007 at 09:28 PM · Thanks so much everyone for the advice, I'm going to implement this in my practice regiment ASAP. The funny thing is, I don't remember an exact date when it started hurting, but the pain has been off and on for years, it has just recently gotten unbearable. Also if I play through the pain, the muscle on the side of my left hand (that fleshy part below the pinky) starts bulging out along with the burning sensation. It gets extremely inflamed and I am forced to stop playing. If I take mini breaks between my practicing it seems to help the pain but as soon as I start back up it hurts again. It isn't only when I play the violin, it hurts right now while I'm typing.

I should probably see a doctor about this...I'm just afraid that the doctor will tell me to stop playing!

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