Wrist problems

Wrist problems

I was at fiddle (OK, violin to be accurate) lessons the other day, and my teacher (a classical guy) said that I use my right wrist too much and that in a few years I will have carple tunnel really bad. Now, I’ve seen a lot of fiddlers who have been playing for 30-40 years using their wrists more than I do and they’re doing fine. I’ve also seen classical players who are destroying their arms right and left (well, I guess it’s mostly right) by using too little wrist. What do you guys think?

Re: Wrist problems

My strategy is humor the classical people. Tnhey won’t leave you alone because they’re convinced they’re right.

then when I ‘m around Celtic musicians or alone I actually play my fiddle.

(alhtough I’m managing to get away with my "bad" bow hold)

On the carpal tunnel…I’m not sure but like you said there are plenty of people who have been playing forever and are fine…but then again you might want to check with one of them…

Re: Wrist problems

Might make a difference if you’re playing 1 hour a day or 5 hours a day. Not sure an hour a day would have near the impact, and just like keyboarding, it’s probably always a good idea to take a break once in a while and stretch and shake out the arms and hands.

Just a thought from a rookie….

Re: Wrist problems

Too *much* wrist? What, are you pinning your elbow to your side and just scritching the bow back and forth with your wrist alone?

I was always told that a fluid wrist motion was the key to good bowing. Maybe your teacher just meant that you should relax your wrist more, not try to muscle the bow too much.

Re: Wrist problems

Possum,

At the risk of stating the obvious, there are also plenty of people who have smoked for decades, and not come down with lung cancer. But that doesn’t mean smoking is safe, or that you can ignore the warnings.

There certainly are plenty people who have had to stop playing classical AND traditional music (or at least been severely limited in their playing) due to repetitive stress injuries. Oddly enough, you’re not as likely to find *them* playing tunes in sessions often. Think about it. If somebody tells you you’re doing something that will encourage RSI, you ignore them at your own peril (though it’s clearly your own perogative to do so).

As for the right wrist, it should be fluid and flexible, but it shouldn’t really flop around. It shouldn’t bend much more than, say, your average hot dog (THERE’s an analogy for you), or 8-inch rubber garden-hose would if waved around mildly. There should be muscle-presence there, but it should not be "stiff". The real flexibility should be in the fingers, not the wrist (see the link below).

The thing that is more likely to hurt your bow arm, if you’re flopping about, is tendinitis (rather than carpal tunnel), and I used to suffer from it myself until I cleaned up my bow-grip. It’s no fun, I promise. It hits you right when you start enjoying playing the most (because that’s when you spend the most time playing). Carpal tunnel syndrome (if I understand correctly) is a good deal nastier. You do NOT want to go there.

Your teacher might have some good advice for you. Otherwise, if you’re still in doubt, you can always look for a second opinion.

—Georgi

Here’s a good description of how to hold the bow, whether for classical or traditional music:

http://fiddleguru.com/Subscribers/bowgrip.html

Re: Wrist problems

How can you use ‘too much wrist’? As a classically trained (sorry) person myself I’d say the most damage is caused by not moving enough. When I was about 12 a ‘classical guy’ told me I moved too much when I played. Several hundred pounds thrown to the physiotherapists and 16 years later I discover that as a result of his advice I no longer breathe when I play.
My advice would be to ask your teacher to explain the way your wrist should be moving, and in what way what you are doing is interfering. If he can’t come up with something more helpful that you can actually understand and apply, find a new teacher! The wrist action should naturally follow through from the finger action, or in the other direction, the action of the arm.
If you isolate and immobilise any part of this sequence a) it will cause problems and b) it won’t sound very nice.

Re: Wrist problems

If you get the opportunity watch top fiddle players up close - they all have slightly different styles - and work out what they have in common that you can use.
Also, if you get the opportunity, watch a classical orchestra playing a concert on TV (for this purpose it doesn’t matter whether you have any interest in classical music, it’s technique we’re looking at here) because the camera is sure to zoom in close-up to the lead violinist and others. See what you can usefully copy from their bowing technique - wrist, hand and finger action. That, btw, is how I got my basic fiddle bowing and fingering technique, but from watching orchestral violinists and violists over many years from the vantage point of a cellist in the orchestra, long before I took up the fiddle. I think there must have been some unconscious osmosis going on.

Re: Wrist problems

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, but I have played tunes with an orthopedist. 🙂

From lots of reading and a good bit of personal experience, I’d say the worst damage from playing an instrument (or typing) probably comes not from the motion, but from the "static loading" of maintaining a joint in a fixed, stressed position - especially if that joint is supporting the movement of other joints, such as a stiff wrist supporting fingers tapping on a computer keyboard. The more constricted the position of a stiff joint, the more susceptible it would be to damage.

So, I would expect that bowing with a stiff wrist would be more damaging than letting the wrist move. But if you use a lot of arm motion and let the wrist flop loosely, you might be going to the opposite extreme. I remember years ago watching Evo Bluestein play the fiddle and marveling at how his wrist seemed to be loose and *completely* relaxed while his arm made big movements like was trying to fly with one wing. I wonder if that irritated his wrist.

Re: Wrist problems

Georgi, is that a ballpark hotdog or one of the little wimpy ones? 🙂 Love that analogy. Thanks guys.

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I was suffering from carpel tunnel and because of the pain gave up playing my usual 5-6 hours a day. Now I remember and have a timer set for half an hour to remind me to stop.

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Re: Wrist problems

well, obviously I breathe a bit. ha ha… though it’s been a close call a few times. 🙂

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wieght lifting and going to a chiropractor has helped me alot… whenever i do start to get a sore elbow or wrist, it’s usually just a bone out of alignment; i go to my chiropractor, get it fixed and the pain’s gone within a day. Because the fiddle is (obviously) not symetrical, weight training has also really helped me
strengthen all those little musles you use playing….. just a thought anyways..works for me!

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Re: Wrist problems

Georgi-

my spologies, I worded that whole thing wrong…it sounded better in my head. and I also should have defined "bad" more clearly….my "bad" bow grip= "not French", which is the "right" way according to all the school orchestra directors I’ve noticed. My "bad" grip is like the one in your link, but higher on the bow because I can control it better that way.

Re: Wrist problems

could any of ye’s explain what exactly is carpel tunnel?

Re: Wrist problems

I always have a quick 5 minute warm up in the loo before playing the tunes its a technique I inherited from the www.georgemichael.com website. It works wonders it keeps me flowing

Re: Wrist problems

Go raibh maith agat, Bob "É Féin"!!