What/where are some common injuries from violin playing?

Edited: April 27, 2019, 12:31 AM · I've got some inflammation in the left lower bicep, and deltoid area. And some on the left forearm. This might be from some previous exacerbating injuries. Feels like all of it are from twisting my arm up.

Where are some common areas violinists sustain injuries? Besides the pocketbook.

Replies (29)

April 27, 2019, 12:33 AM · I my case it's bruises about the head and shoulders from my wife ripping my bow from my hand and beating me severely with it.
April 27, 2019, 12:40 AM · Rotator cuff tendinitis is common among violinists and violists, as are biceps, triceps, and deltoid strains and various neck injuries. These may occur on both sides, not only on the left side. Also, TMJ dysfunction (among those who rely too much on the head to hold the instrument in place), carpal tunnel syndrome, and cubital tunnel syndrome.
Edited: April 29, 2019, 2:42 PM · Thoracic outlet syndrome, and, not an injury, but a really big medical problem that changing ergonomics, chin rest, shoulder rests, etc. will not fix; juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 1:09 AM · Shoulder and neck. My neck pops when I look to the right and my shoulder usually hurts when I lay down for bed.
April 27, 2019, 2:20 AM · Hearing damage.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 6:17 AM · I might be having some of the delt, bicep, and forearm tendonitis, though this could be transferred nerve pain from a pre-existing shoulder injury. I try to wear an ear plug on the left, and might try to do something on the right.

"Thoracic Outlet Syndrome" at first sounded like it was going to be a joke, but I looked it up.

I have been increasing my practice time. I'm up to 45 minutes per day, but that takes something like 10 sittings to get that.

Edited: April 27, 2019, 7:15 AM · Laura at Red Desert Violin had problems with elbow tendinitis from playing and she eventually posted several videos with some simple warmup/stretches she uses. She isn't a medical professional, but I've certainly found them helpful and can tell it when I don't do them before practicing. I've significant shoulder/neck problems and these short exercises before playing really help. This is a link to the one I normally use, she has others on the free side of her channel.

Simple stretches for violinists: https://youtu.be/pLM9aXFc_-M

April 27, 2019, 7:15 AM · Thank you Catherine.
April 27, 2019, 7:17 AM · Perhaps you guys with arm issues should try playing without an SR? Once mastered (where the violin rests on the collarbone and hand and the arm is relaxed), the advantage is that the arm/shoulder has much more freedom of movement, reducing repetitive stress-injury. Of course it is not for everyone and I am sure there are others with SR-less problems (often associated more with the neck). Still, its an option.
April 27, 2019, 7:49 AM · I should have said my problems long predated my return to the violin. With the nature of my neck and shoulder problems the lack of a shoulder rest would have decided consequences...
April 27, 2019, 9:15 AM · My left ear is compromised.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 11:54 AM · I can only play without a shoulder rest if I never play on the viola C string. Short fingers, so I have to tilt the viola a lot more than most people. Playing without a shoulder rest forces me to hold it too high and too flat. For that matter, even the violin G string is hard without a shoulder rest.
Edited: April 27, 2019, 12:41 PM · This warm-up will help you improve your pitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M2Kj-iBXPc
April 27, 2019, 1:39 PM · " I can only play without a shoulder rest if I never play on the viola C string. Short fingers, so I have to tilt the viola a lot more than most people. Playing without a shoulder rest forces me to hold it too high and too flat. For that matter, even the violin G string is hard without a shoulder rest."
That was my biggest problem for a long while too - to the point that I added gadgets to get over the problem. And then a long time later, when by necessity I had to use a different violin, I found all the problems had gone away! The reason I think is that you learn subconsciously to tip the violin a bit. Wish I had before and after pictures!

You might want to look at the Menuhin lesson on the left hand - its on YouTube.

Edited: April 27, 2019, 3:20 PM · So... I literally have the shortest fingers of any adult I've ever met. I have a friend who is 4'8", almost a foot shorter than me, and has longer fingers than mine. And I play viola -- I actually hate playing violin and only do so if there is an urgent need for one. I assure you this is not subconscious. If I play without a rest, I have to swing my elbow to an extreme position (arm almost flush against the back of the instrument) just to be able to stop the C string.
April 27, 2019, 4:25 PM · I've just returned home from spending the day playing for English folk dancers - about 6 hours in all. The middle-aged fiddler (I didn't know him) sitting next to me remarked as we were packing up at the end of a busy day that his LH fingers hurt. I suggested that perhaps he was pressing down too hard - I had observed his technique and had reason to think this was a real possibility. He replied that he had been playing the fiddle all his life so it couldn't be that! The conversation didn't continue because almost immediately we went our separate ways.
April 27, 2019, 4:33 PM · The biggest injury I've ever gotten from the violin is to my sense of self-worth...

All those 7-year-old prodigies
Still hurts...

April 27, 2019, 5:23 PM · What hurts most if listening to myself play.
April 27, 2019, 6:09 PM · When my teacher assigned me the D Minor Gigue from Partita No. 2, some years ago, I decided to really go after it. I did not warm up properly and I just started blasting away at it. I locked up my forearm and had to take two weeks off.

Then, I developed a neck problem (probably a pinched nerve in my upper back) from overdoing it on the viola and I had to have physical therapy. The PT was amazing, showed me some great exercises that resemble Asian martial arts but only vaguely of course.

April 27, 2019, 8:48 PM · For me, switching to use a shoulder-rest is what solved my left forearm tendinitis issues.

Everyone's body geometry is different, and the combination of chin-rest and shoulder-rest (if any), angle and placement of the violin, etc. will be dependent on that geometry.

April 28, 2019, 5:44 AM · Arthritis pain was a very, very minor problem before I returned to violin one year ago, but now I’m working to manage pain in both thumbs. Falling barometric pressure makes it worse too. Rainy days would be good practice days, but, alas.
April 28, 2019, 7:13 AM · Lydia YMWV!

I wonder how many millennials have any idea what that means …

I should have sent you SRs ;)

April 29, 2019, 11:06 AM · I got tennis elbow in my left elbow from tense vibrato. I used a theraband flexbar and the accompanying exercise and it cleared right up. That one I highly recommend!

I got rotator cuff issues from tense spiccato on lower strings. That has lingered, but I've been doing dead-hangs (just hanging completely limp) from a pull-up bar with success recently. This one seems safe, but rotator cuff problems can be a few different things, so don't take my word for it.

All of this could have been avoided by not pushing myself and listening to my body.

April 29, 2019, 11:16 AM · I thought it was YMMV. May, not will. :)

I wonder how many millenials have measured their car's mileage or even know how.

April 29, 2019, 12:56 PM · I knew it looked a bit odd! Thanks for the correction Paul; my dyslexia is getting worse with age (I think I really do have a mild case - often inverting letters...) ... :P
April 30, 2019, 12:54 AM · Well, perhaps it was an affirmative, pro-active acronym:

You Mileage WILL Vary.

April 30, 2019, 1:08 PM · Wow, Tim, I heard that was how the Flash got his super-powers!


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