Chronic right arm pain when playing fast

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by lurè, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. lurè

    lurè extended range pizza

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    When i play solos or some relatively fast lines I feel a pain on my right arm.
    More precisely it's around the brachialis m.
    a.jpg
    This happens both when i play standing or sitting. In the latter case, changing position from standard (guitar sitting on the right leg) to classical position helps mitigating the pain.
    I don't know if a poor picking technique can justify the pain; maybe my right arm is too much tight when I play.
    Don't know if you have experienced this or have some tips to fix the pain/playing.
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    See a doctor.
     
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  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire ERG hoarder/pickup tester

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    1. How do you pick? all elbow, all wrist, a little of both, etc
    2. How often do you play? Do you warm up?
    3. Do you only get this pain while playing guitar or while doing other repetitive motions with that arm?
    4. Do you feel pain or soreness anywhere else after playing? Is the pain dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing?
    5. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being no pain and 10 being excruciating pain where you can barely stay conscious)

    You mentioned that playing classical style mitigates the pain to an extent, then I would recommend only playing like that, and warming up regularly (ie work up to fast riffs with your right hand, don't just start trem picking the second you pick up the guitar). If neither of those help alleviate the pain then quit playing guitar for a couple of weeks and take some ibuprofen if it flares up. If it's still an issue then see a doctor.
    Most people I know with pain while playing guitar tend to have it down near the elbow (basically tennis elbow) or at the wrist. yours is in a weird spot -provided it's not referred pain, it could be due to playing with the guitar resting on your right leg. I know a lot of people are comfortable with that position but speaking from a body mechanics/ergonomic standpoint it's generally not a good position as it puts more strain on the muscles compared to the classical position. A lot of guitars will cant your arm out from your core, instead of letting it hang naturally like in the classical position.
     
  4. lurè

    lurè extended range pizza

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    1. A little of both: on lower strings elbow picking is probably more pronounced, on higher strings mainly wrist.
    2. I play regularly every day 1h-2h. I do not stretch properly before playing ( finger and wrist stretching etc..) but I usually start with playing slow stuff.
    3. Only when playing guitar, I also do workout regularly wthout any problem.
    4. The rest of the body is totally fine, just a little bit of rigidity on the right shoulder but nothing fancy. Dull and thrubbing; it goes away with 10-15 minutes of rest.
    5. I would say 6: it's not invalidating but it's annoying.

    Yes, playing in classical position is totally necessary and that's something I've done in the past but the problem is still present even in standing position, that's why I was thinking of poor picking technique.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
  5. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire ERG hoarder/pickup tester

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    best thing to do is to take a break from playing for couple of weeks. It's likely a repetitive use injury. Take some ibuprofen to mitigate the pain if need be.
     
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  6. Eptaceros

    Eptaceros Wayfarer Contributor

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    That's an unusual spot to experience pain from guitar playing. Try focusing on your breathing next time you play guitar. You want to deliberately focus on slow, deep and consistent breaths. It's tough at first and easy to forget about once you play difficult passages, but over time, this will greatly help your entire body relax while playing.
     
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  7. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    I think I get similar aches and soreness when playing in campfire position that completely go away in classical position. I think it's a posture thing. My should just gets tired from holding myself that way but it doesn't get worse when playing fast, as far as I can tell.

    Something to try:

    Sit in your normal posture and kick into something that you can easily play without thinking too much. Anything. Shift your focus to the rest of your body--where is the tension? Why is it there? Do you need it there? Could you play the same thing without that tension? Try focusing on individual parts of your body, releasing unneeded tension where you find it while trying to keep the playing consistent. Focus on your breathing. Take a break. Repeat process, maybe playing something a little trickier or more strenuous.

    If this doesn't seem to work for you and your arm is otherwise fine and you're working out, consider seeing a doctor or sports injury specialist. Also look into adding more Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet and looking into other anti-inflammatory foods.
     
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  8. lurè

    lurè extended range pizza

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    I've tried to focus attention to other parts of the body and see if there's something wrong with them while I'm playing.
    The right shoulder is usually very tight even when I'm playing slow and gets, of course, tighter during difficult passages.
    This is probably (but I'm not completely sure) caused by pushing the forearm too much against the body of the guitar.
    I've recently learned to reduce tension on the fretting hand but working on the picking hand is a big challenge for me.
     
  9. Eptaceros

    Eptaceros Wayfarer Contributor

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    I'm tellin ya man, work on your breathing. It's the first source of your tension. You can try focusing on relaxing various limbs and such, but you will inadvertently be ignoring other tension points. Breath control will really go a long way.

    Believe me, I know this sounds very new-agey, but I started doing it after Guthrie Govan spoke about it at some clinic (or interview? don't remember anymore), and my body and playing have benefited greatly. I was diagnosed with tendonitis and carpal tunnel when I was 19, and I haven't really felt any of the effects in years.
     
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