Restarting violin...need tendonitis prevention strategy

January 24, 2006 at 07:19 AM · Hi,

I've had a rough few years in terms of violin because I keep reaggrivating an old injury in my left wrist. I started noticing pain in my wrist maybe 5 years ago and eventually had sugery for it...which I now think may have been a mistake. There was a borderline problem with one of my tendons and I was young and liked the idea of being aggressive with sugery and gave up on the therapy too quickly. In retrospect, I understand why I had the problems. I wasn't warming up, I would skip a couple days of practice and then play a lot at once, and I had stopped being as physically active as I used to.

I've tried starting up a few times since the surgery but have not been able to get into a good groove because the problem keeps coming back up. I think I may have been impatient a few times and not disciplined enough with warm ups. So here I am again, with a new attitude, stronger discipline, in much better shape (20-30lb lighter...more active) hoping I can get back to playing without inflaming my wrist. Of course, I now have the additional challenge of getting back into shape since I haven't played in so long.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation or have any advice? I know that I need to stretch thoroughly before playing and to take breaks during practices etc. I've also tried alexander technique. Specific stretches or advice would be greatly appeciated it.

I'm also looking for some guide lines in terms of a practicing schedule...how long I should play for at first and at what rate should I extend my practices etc.

Unfortunately, as a college and computer science student, I spend a lot of time typing and was contemplating getting an 'ergonomic' keyboard. I'm also left handed and have an akward writing grip and have to take lots of notes fast in my Math classes.

Thanks so much.

Replies (8)

January 24, 2006 at 05:23 PM · Lots of threads on this website have shared problems of tendonitis, tmj, various muscular and neurological problems, and so forth. Being an amateur at the violin, I can tell you that you are probably about to get some excellent and detailed advice from violin pros that will follow my response. But also, there are experts in PT and OT and in medicine who specialize in the hand, and many of them see musicians on a regular basis. Make sure you get someone to actually look at your situation in the flesh, not just over the email.

I had tendonitis surgery about 3 years ago in my left elbow, which they thought came from years of violin playing (I'm right handed and never did play tennis with my left arm), so I know what a complex thing this can be. For myself, a balanced combination of relaxation, exercise, heat, cold, stretching (flexibility), and avoidance of doing things that are obviously painful has seemed to keep things under control.

Hope that helps (at least to keep a perspective).

Cordially, Sandy Marcus

January 24, 2006 at 11:03 PM · My occupational therapist had me start with 20 minutes of practice a day, every day (no missing days). Then gradually increasing this time by adding a couple minutes at a time, always taking breaks after every 20 minutes.

Also, she had me use heating pads on my wrists prior to practicing, and ice afterwards. Plus stretching before and after and at breaks.

January 25, 2006 at 01:14 AM · Greetings,

you might even consider learning the violin left handed.

Cheers,

Buri

January 25, 2006 at 05:04 AM · Hi, I also play professionally on both violin and computers. The best help for me was when I had pictures taken of my posture followed by having a proper adjustable chair installed. The experts at the clinic (a real mixtures of various professional medical talents) said that properly supported posture is the most important aspect of repetitive computer work injuries.

I'd seek out a clinic that has doctors, kinesiologists, physiotherapists, and various other medical professionals. There are a lot more of these for specific injuries than most know. Alexander technique is good but so is a good set of exercises made especially for your situation as per such a clinic.

January 25, 2006 at 10:58 PM · Greetings,

Rick said:

>Alexander technique is good but so is a good set of exercises made especially for your situation as per such a clinic.

This is a good point. In the long run almost any problem of this type can be resolved by AT, but I have noticed that the closer one gets to the hand the more people require starting there and working backwards to the overall strucrture. An obvious reason is the sheer neccessity of having to play again as quickly as possible. That is why some people prefer Felfdenkreis first. Feldenkreis being an offspring of AT that tends to follow this approach,

Cheers,

Buri

March 2, 2006 at 05:00 AM · Hi, I wanted to follow up in case anyone is still going to check this thread.

I haven't been playing much and am being careful and haven't had a wrist flare up at all. What's interesting though is that I can tell its my forearm and elbow that have gotten sore but because I've noticed early I could manage it and its gone away. Though when I was playing right now, I could feel my forearm muscle feeling fatigued and tightening a bit. Maybe in the past I would have played through it but I know better now.

Alexander Technique helped me understand how everything is connected which is important, but I think I need exercises to stretch out the forearm. I've tried doing it by flexing my wrist both ways but it doesn't seem to stretch closer to the elbow .

Any suggestions? Thanks.

March 2, 2006 at 05:54 AM · Greetings,

firts of all it is not a good idea to stretch the hand in both directions. The stetch that pulls the hand towards the insides of the wrist is not recommended . The opposite is.

Second, the stretch you probably need for your forarm is simply the reverse rotation to what you do when you play. You can do it in front of you easily. Another option is to increase the intensity of the stretch by reach behind your buttocks , grabbing the seta of the chair and using that as added resistance. This stretch should be used throughtout long orchestral rehearsals by just about everyone,

Cheers,

Buri

March 3, 2006 at 03:47 AM · I have worked with many professional players and students with tendonitis and they invariably use a shoulder rest. I have never failed to help anyone play without pain and have developed a reputation in this area. I firmly believe that playing should be pain free regardless of practice time and depends upon proper and natural set up based on alignment. Left arm placement is crucial with elbow pointing down and left thumb up and a rocking wrist vibrato pivoting on the thumb joint. Never fails. Ice, stretching, rest are nice, but if you go back to your old way of playing that produced the problem in the first place you are asking for a chronic situation.

Best,

Dylana

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