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Thread: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

  1. #1
    Registered User chris24's Avatar
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    Default Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    The dreaded tennis elbow has caught up with me after a great weekend at the Walker Creek music camp recently. My physiotherapist has said no fretting (pun intended), but lay off the mandolin for the moment. Well the right arm is OK, so I figure it's time to spend time on picking technique. Does the MC massive have any suggestions for pick exercises, that will overcome the monotony of open strings only!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    When I played guitar I had problems with left arm pain (I rarely ever get it by playing mandolin); however, when I was primarily a guitar player, I purchased a dobro for entertainment when I was resting fretting arm. If I had to rest left arm now, I'd work on singing/learning new songs (without playing instrument) and tremolo with a metronome while playing open strings.

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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Find the John Moore studies. They are for guitar but work well for mandolin and practice them with a metronome.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    I have had the same problem. Here are some things that helped me:
    • The stretching exercises on musiciansheallth.com
    • Stringing a ukulele as a four-nylon-sting mandolin and continuing two handed practice, but with way less string tension
    • Dabbling with playing another instrument - in my case harmonica, but there are other choices
    • Doing a lot more listening to music - listening is practice if you approach it that way

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Practicing on open strings is always a bit monotonous IMO, but it is a very, very useful and helpful part of plucked stringed instrument practice. It requires a certain amount of discipline to stick with it through the drudgery

    I have some pretty monotonous open- and fretted-string exercises I use for the guitar. I just recently purchased Brad Laird's mandolin university set of courses, and I noticed that the first eight exercises in the Mandolin Training Camp book are all open-string exercises for right hand technique. I'd reproduce it here for you, but as the material is copyrighted I can't do that. But I can share a few tips of my own:

    1. Start with one string, say the e course, and practice steady down- and up-strokes with a metronome.
    2. Time yourself, committing to a set amount of time on each string, steady work with a metronome, example, 5 minutes on the e
    3. Move to the next string. Concentrate on smooth, steady strokes in time with metronome. Make note of the difference in resistance and tension you feel between the e string course and the a string course, etc. Concentrate on making the down- and up-stroke about the same volume. Note the difference in sound between down- and up-strokes. Vary your technique to get different sounds, for example, see if you can do things to make down and up have the same sound, see how your technique makes them sound different, experiment.
    4. If you faithfully execute this type of practice, you will learn some fine nuances about your technique and about your instrument that few players take the time to learn. You will also realize that this type of practice is more difficult and more beneficial than many players realize. It could be a blessing that you are temporarily in a position to capitalize on this type of practice.
    5. Once you have done this with all four courses, you will have had over 20 minutes of good, steady practice and concentration accumulatively. (Of course, you'll take some brief breaks between strings if need be). NEXT item is to create more exercises of your own, following the same general guidelines. Use some of these ideas for exercises in your next set of lessons: Cross-picking, string-skipping, tremolo, vibrato, muting (staccato) and more.

    So you see, I believe you could accomplish a great deal in your current situation, though some monotony may be inevitable
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  9. #6

    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Just some encouragement.

    I had a physical therapist once tell me, which would you regret more? Missing a few weeks of practice, or not letting something heal all the way, and causing a problem which lasts years?

    I'm glad you're not looking for ways around the advice.

  10. #7
    (not my heart rate!) 40bpm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    I was able to entirely recover (and quickly) from tennis elbow on both arms. What worked for me was the RICE approach (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

    The ice seemed to make a huge difference. I used one of those blue re-freeze-able bags. 20 minutes on then OFF. Buffer the blue ice from your skin with a towel or similar. Repeat several times per day. Repeat several times per day. Repeat several times per day.

    The other thing that worked really well was using a thing called the "TheraBand Flexbar Resistance Bar" from Amazon. I started with the "Light" version and now using the medium for ongoing maintenance. These things work great.

    Of course, rest is the first thing to do - let your muscles heal and the inflammation to resolve (with the help of ice).

    Playing right hand only exercises is a great opportunity for improvement in that area. Best of luck and heal quickly.

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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Tremolo & Crosspicking [DUUDUUDU] right hand only

  13. #9

    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Man o man chris,I can relate to the pain of that mess.Though it's been a few years since I've had a flare up of it.I kept ice pack on my arm like 40bpm said.I had a friend that I worked with,he suffered terrible with tendinitis also. He handed me a strap one day said try this for ur elbow it fastens around ur forearm.Of course I said hey stupid it's my #@%& elbow messed up not my forearm! He laughed and said try it a couple of days see what u think,the dr. Prescribed it for his tendinitis. So i tried it out and after three days I went and bought me one.Don't ask me how it works but it sure does.Yes i apologized to my friend also.I bought mine for about $25.Cheaper than a dr visit!

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    It tricks the tendon into pulling against the strap pressure a bit, instead of fully and directly against the bone/cartilage where the damage is. Such straps are good for promoting healing and preventing more damage while healing.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  16. #11

    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    I've suffered from tendinitis as well. Ice and rest will help, but I've also gotten some relief with dry needling. It's a flavor of acupuncture that goes deeper into the muscle which promotes blood flow and thus healing. The trick is to fine someone who really know how to do this well. It could be an acupuncturist, a chiropractor or in my case a physiologist (doctor of physical therapy).

    Good luck!

    - JD

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    Registered User Pasha Alden's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Better to let any injury heal sufficiently. Don't know what I'd do with any permanent injury to my hands.


    Hope you are better as soon as the body allows and that you will be back to playing soon.

    Best of luck

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    From Pasha - "Don't know what I'd do with any permanent injury to my hands.". If it ever happens,you'll do what we all do,get through it as best you can within the limitations of your own injury. I have a degree of Tendonitis in both hands which simply makes them feel stiff. I have to be careful of picking up very light objects because my brain tells me that i've got hold of them,but my stiff,slow fingers haven't got the message. I also have 'Trigger finger' in my right middle finger which makes the finger lock up when closed & then it 'jerks' open (Triggers) when i open it up. Fortunately it doesn't prevent me from playing banjo or mandolin. My Tendonitis has meant that i can't manipulate a pick in my right hand if it slips around,i have to use my left hand to do it. I quit fretting about it a long while back & take my own advice & get on with it.
    I had an op.for Trigger finger on my left hand some 12 - 13 years ago. One of the Physio.things i was given to do,i still use today. Get a wash basin full of water as hot as you can stand, & soak your hands & a face cloth in it for a few minutes.Then take the face cloth & wring it out with both hands as hard as you can. The 'tension & relaxing' on your tendons works wonders in freeing them up for a while. Even my triggering finger seems a lot better,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Having tendinitis actually improved my technique. It forced me to scrutinize everything I do, asking, "Is it relaxed? "Is it comfortable?" I found that a lot of what I was doing was not relaxed and comfortable, so I took my technique apart and rebuilt it with "relaxed and comfortable" as the baseline. It turns out that your playing improves when it is relaxed and comfortable.

    I know every body is different, so what I did may not apply to you. Good luck with it.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Jon - That's a good example of turning a 'disability' into an advantage - well done !. How much thinking about his disability did Django Reinhardt put into his playing.Also,Barry Abernathy,the banjo player with Mountain Heart,with his left hand disability,hasn't let that phase him. If these guys can overcome their physical obstacles,then a touch of Tendonitis is hardly anything to worry about,
    Ivan
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  25. #16

    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Well... I wouldn't put myself in the same category as Django, or any of those guys, because my disability was self-inflicted. I am just happy that changing my technique did the trick.
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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    How long do you have to break from playing to let your tendinitis heal?

  27. #18
    Registered User chris24's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    So far 3-4 weeks and counting, though I'm in the middle of a business trip to USA at moment without the mandolin, so that makes it easier to bear ;-)

  28. #19
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    Wow, that's tough. I hope the hiatus ends as soon as it is safe.

    I had some soreness after a very intense playing week but don't think it was tendinitis.

    Still, I can relate to what JonZ was saying about evaluating technique and staying loose.

  29. #20
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tendonitis forces right hand only practice

    I've had tennis elbow in my fretting hand--and that was when I taught guitar!
    So I played very little in lessons, and that also accelerated some students' lesson in tuning their own guitars.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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