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Hand exercises


Forgetful Jones:
Hello all-
I'm wondering if anyone out there has a regular hand/finger/wrist exercise routine. My hands have become more achy, and even more damaging, I have been experiencing elbow pain similar to tennis elbow that I believe stems from playing stringed instruments. I feel pain & stiffness in my elbow (fretting hand side) when gripping, twisting or lifting with my hand.

Has anyone else experienced elbow pain?
Maybe someone here knows some preventative measures that may help?


Hi Forgetful Jones,
Elbow pain sure sounds like tendinitis. I had it once--got it in the course of playing one set in a really noisy restaurant. That was in mid-December and it lasted until about June of the next year. I don't know of any exercises that help with it. Soft tissue injuries can take a heck of a long time to heal. Icing your elbow may help, but I think the best treatment is rest. I wasn't able to stop playing altogether when I had it, because I had to continue teaching and taking occasional gigs, and that may have made it last longer. I don't think I had a real bad case of it--for me it seemed to hurt the most when I wasn't playing. When I was playing, I tended to forget about it. Best of luck with this, and I hope that you either find some effective treatment or are a quick healer.
All best,

Hi Forgetful Jones:

Have you been examined by a physician, preferably one who specializes in problems with the finger, hand, forearm and elbow? If not, I strongly recommend that you make an appointment if at all possible. An accurate diagnosis is important. --And it's possible the initial cause was not related to playing musical instruments.

Back in the mid-2000s my wife was diagnosed with lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and also a problem with her hand. Both were due to overuse. She's muscled and strong and tends to overdo things with no negative consequences, but this time her number came up. It was a regimen of rest, OTC anti-inflammatory meds and physical therapy. Like in John's case, it took six-plus months before she was fully recovered and back to 100%.

An old friend who is a GP and one of the best natural athletes I've ever known strongly advises against injections. Some can result in irreversible tissue damage and deterioration, so in his professional opinion they should only be used as a last resort.

Best of Luck--I'm hoping it's nothing too serious and you make a full and speedy recovery.

As an aside, last summer, less than 24 hours after her gall bladder surgery, my wife looked outside and saw that the neighborhood rabbits were in her garden. She went out and ran them off and decided that while she was there to do some gardening. She was out there all afternoon until early evening when she considered her post-surgery recovery to be complete. (--Nothing like following the doctor's orders. Heaven help me...)

Forgetful Jones:
Hi John & Stuart-
Thank you so much for replying & sharing your own experiences. I have not seen a physician about my elbow, however, since the start of the new year, I have made a few trips to an acupuncturist to address multiple aches & pains (back, neck, elbow). I've actually noticed fairly significant improvement already. The elbow was in pretty rough shape a few weeks back.

I have been resting but not completely avoiding using my left hand. I had not played my instruments very much, but just recently started picking up my guitars & banjo again for some short light sessions.

I hope the worst is behind me, but I'm not going to push it. Thanks for the kind words.

Perhaps this will help: I had a severe left hand injury that I thought would end my playing. I had an excellent surgeon but the key was a physical therapy hand specialist. I still have some nerve damage in my little finger, but I can play almost as well before (i.e. sort of ok ;)). Anyway, I still do the exercises and stretches and they really help. Good luck!


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