The Ominous Tendon Pain
For the first twenty minutes after picking up my violin, my fingers move as if through molasses. Normal. But, when I played Kreutzer 9 before my scales the other day, I had quite intense pain in my wrist and palm around the tendons, in addition to general stiffness.
I find this happens every day.
I have a very loose grip with no tension in any of my joints—I made sure of it when I felt the pain. The problem also disappears when I'm all warmed up and my hand feels fine for the rest of the day.
Do you stretch properly - for 5 minutes - before playing? There are some good stretches available online.
It's not really a burn but a stretching feeling.
40 years ago I had a 30 minute violin warmup routine after work that included scales, some Dont exercises, a couple of Paganini caprices and some other things that I can't recall (maybe some Bach). I experienced pain in the middle of the routine but by the end of the 30 minutes the pain was gone I was ready to resume practice (of whatever I was working on) where I had left off the previous evening. That was my routine for 5 years and it never caused me lasting pain.
Pain is the way your body tells your brain; "Don't do that". It could be a ergonomic-posture-form problem. A lot of private teachers are not good at diagnosing and fixing those issues. I know I am not.
I think half the problem here is OP is going straight into Kreutzer without any sort of warmup exercises or scales. Personally I don't even think about studies until 45 mins into practice.
I'm using this Kreutzer as a warmup.
Joel note that the Kreutzer more or less regularly alternates between fragments where the 1st finger is the lowest, and fragments where the 2nd finger is the lowest. So in a sense you never keep one finger the entire etude. But regardless of that, what you write is very interesting and something I was not aware of (although it sounds logical in retrospect).
The statement "For the first twenty minutes after picking up my violin, my fingers move as if through molasses." does not match up well with the statement "I have a very loose grip with no tension in any of my joints". When you sit to watch TV or have lunch, do your fingers "move as if through molasses" as you move your hands? If so it's not normal, and a trip to a doctor may identify the cause. If "molasses fingers" does not occur in other situations, you have a tension problem starting as you pick up your violin.
Great suggestions above. This sounds to me like you may be twisting up your wrist while you're playing Kreutzer 9. I myself have had times when my wrist tendons hurt a bit and it's because my wrist is a bit twisted, I'm overstretching my fingers, I'm squeezing my thumb, or any combination of these things. The pain is gone once I fix it. Although your grip could be relatively loose, your wrist could be extremely bent or twisted sideways (referred to as radial and/or ulnar deviation), and none of these poses are acceptable. Try playing Kreutzer 9 slowly and pay attention to the feeling in your left wrist. If you feel any twisting, tension or discomfort, consider repositioning your hand so you can reach with more ease.