Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

I sometimes find that a day or so after practicing more than usual, my hands ache (like practicing 2-3 hours instead of 1/2 or 1).

My bow hand is quite relaxed and my fiddle hand is fairly relaxed (I don’t think I have a particularly tight grip.) I feel my positioning is pretty good.

Is this normal? Does it mean I should practice less (sacriligious!), or just suck it up (like runners do)? It is my joints and the bones in the back of my hands, esp. my left. It’s the sort of achiness that has me thinking, hmm, I could take something for this (like ibuprofen) and the ache would go away. Like a headache in my hands, only heat feels good and cold makes it worse.

It might not be related to fiddle but I think it’s likely as I can’t think of anything else that would stress my hands, and there seems to be a connection, sometimes, with extended practicing. But the achiness doesn’t come on until the next day. I expect by the following day the ache will be gone.

I worry because both of my grandmothers had terrible arthritis in their hands, and I just found out two of my aunts have a joint syndrome that affects their hands. But I am young (30s) and I believe those are later-onset kinds of afflictions. Good that I started fiddling now, rather than waiting until later in life.

Anyone have this sort of thing happen?

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

When I picked up my mandolin (similar fingering!) after a longish break and started playing for severla hours a day, I epxerienced something similar - to the point that I had to ease right off for over a week. It went away and hasn’t come back. It was the only time I ever had such an experience. So I reckon it is just over-using muscles and extra impact on joints, that’s all.

But I’m not sure that pushing on through is a great idea. They’re telling you something…

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

Oops - sorry for typos - I’m knackered…

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

But like sport--best to up your activity level gradually, not all at once.

Our fingers lack muscles, they move by tendons, so tendinitis is always a worry. Warm the hands up gradually and make sure your forearm muscles are warm and ready, too, before launching into more intense playing.

I remind myself to take mini-breaks every 20 minutes or so to let the hands rest and recover.

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Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

I’ve never had hand problems. But elbow and shoulder aches
on the left happen occasionally. Mandolin is quite different from
fiddle - more pressure needed in the left hand but you don’t
have the contortions of the left arm.

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

Whenever this topic comes up I wrestle with whether to mention a possible contributing factor. Hemochromatosis. A genetic disorder that leads to excess iron stores in the body. I have it myself. It’s *the* most common genetic disorder among people of Irish and Scottish ancestry.

Chances are, you just overdid it a bit.

But I don’t mind spreading the word about hemochromatosis, especially among people likely to have some “celtic” DNA. If it helps one person get a diagnosis and prevent nasty, nasty problems, then it’s worth the use of bandwidth.

Excess iron can cause or contribute to all sorts of problems--liver cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, brain tumors…..

For me, the earliest symptom was pain and stiffness in small joints--neck, fingers, toes--and chronic tendinitis. The iron bonds with calcium in the bloodstream and forms tiny crystals that burst red cells, causing inflammation. Playing fiddle (and other instruments) made it worse.

A simple serum iron test will show whether your iron levels are higher than normal. From there, you can get a gene test to confirm a diagnosis. Treatment is simple--periodic phlebotomies. They take 500 grams of blood out of your arm. Leeches off the excess iron, your iron stores eventually return to normal, and continued phlebotomies keep it there.

I can usually tell when I’m due for another bloodletting--my hands get stiff and sore, though no where near as bad as they used to.

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Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

If I’m practising -- or even just playing : ) -- the same thing over and over, I sometimes get aching in my left hand, As soon as it starts go and make a coffee then carry on playing something else. I don’t have any bother with it -- as Ian Stock says, it’s your body telling you something.

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Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

If your worried about developing arthritis you could start taking glucosamine, a joint supplement available from your pharmacy. It helps maintain healthy cartilage which is the tissue that covers the ends of bones within joints and which rubs together when the joints move. Although arthritis has many causes, the degradation of intra-articular cartilage is usually the cause of the pain

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Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

Cod liver oil tablets are good.
In the recent past, I’ve been prescribed glucosamine tablets by my doctor because of a serious sporting knee injury from 20 odd years ago but stopped taking them. You should consult your doctor before taking glucosamine, even though you can get it without prescription.

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

warning: if you have angioedema (an admittedly rare condition), glucosamine can present a serious health risk. check with a doctor.

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

Pain is the sign of a problem. Playing with pain is usually a mistake, unless you know exactly what is causing it and are not making things worse by playing. Be conscious of tension while you play. A lot of practice does require some tension to move the fingers and hold them appropriately on the strings, but you should try to apply as much pressure as you need to and no more. Check the wrist and forearm as well. The position of the hand should allow the fingers to move efficiently with as little work as possible. Tension is the enemy of playing, and can cause damage that is not easily repaired.

Re: Fiddlers - are achy hands “normal” if you have practiced more than usual?

I will get sore hands while playing occasionally. I try to stretch before I play for an extended period of time. I also massage my hands to work through any knots that might form in the muscle.