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Any tips for dealing with wrist pain?

olivigus

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Augh. I am SO bummed out. Today I had to make the difficult decision to take a break from my accordion lessons and playing in general because of acute pain in my left wrist. It's been building up for a while now, and I think I am just making it worse every time I pick up the accordion (which I have been doing very enthusiastically since last March). I've been icing it every night, wearing a brace when typing, and trying to rest it from other activities, but it's not getting better. I do a lot of computer work in my job, and I think introducing the new and unfamiliar movement of playing the bass, and doing that every day, just overloaded it too much. Has anyone else experienced this type of wrist pain/injury? What did you do? Any tips or ideas to speed recovery? Exercises I could do to build it back up? It will start to feel better after a few days of ice and rest, and then I play, and even though doesn't hurt while playing, afterwards I can feel it aching again. I'm afraid I need to take a total break and pursue getting some physical therapy, since my home remedies don't seem to be helping. But it makes me super sad because I have been really enjoying learning the accordion, and I just love playing it. Advice (or even just sympathy) very welcome!
 

JeffJetton

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Been there, done that. In my case it was my right wrist. Obviously, you should see a real doctor to get actual useful advice, but I'll tell you what helped me the most:

Patience

Tugging on a flower doesn't make it grow any faster, it just risks killing it. Things take the time they take.

Assuming this is an overuse injury (and again, that's up to your doc), the cure it not using it as much. Sure, popping an Aleve twice a day might help things a bit, and there are stretches and things that can help too. But mainly, the less you use it, the faster it will heal and the quicker you can get back in to playing. The more you try to use it too much, the longer it will take to heal. Don't let your eagerness backfire!

Another weird thing that helped in my case: I wound up switching to mousing with my other hand, which I liked so much I still do it about half the time, whether I need to or not. :)

In the meantime, there are lots of great ways to improve your musicianship that don't involve using your left hand too much. Obviously, focusing on right-hand technique if you play a chromatic instrument (scales, Hanon, chords/arpeggios, chord melody work, etc.), and/or playing music that doesn't need or even eschews the left hand (Irish session tunes spring to mind) would work. If your treble clef sight-reading could use some improvement, well now's the opportunity for that too!

This might also be a good time to work on your ears (figuring out melodies for which you don't have the notation, working on recognizing intervals by ear, etc.), and maybe boning up on your theory knowledge. Learning how to use software you're not yet familiar with, such as notation software or audio recording tools, is always a good use of downtime too.

Good luck!
 
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JeffJetton

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And you know what? Not only did I have that similar problem with my right wrist, it was around this time last year! I posted this on Instagram exactly one year ago today... weird, eh?

 

Dingo40

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Olivegus,
There's a whole genre of northern Italian music that never uses the left hand at all. In fact, they often remove the left hand reed blocks altogether.πŸ™‚
Some of their organettas are actually made without any bass notes.πŸ™‚
 

Zevy

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Take a break and see a specialist. I've had repetitive motion injuries in both elbows, wrists and feet. This too shall pass.
I went to a doctor a while back with my accordion. He didn't even let me take it out of the case. He said that I wasn't the first accordion player to see him.
Good luck!
 

olivigus

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Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the empathy and words of wisdom. I did get to talk to my doctor today, and the good news is she thinks it's more an overuse injury and inflamation of the tendons that go from my thumb to my wrist, rather than something like carpal tunnel. They did an x-ray just to rule out anything more dire, and put me in a much more serious splint that basically immobilizes my thumb completely. @JeffJetton those are all great suggestions for keeping my hand in, so to speak. Maybe I can figure out a way to move the bellows that doesn't involve my wrist or thumb, so I can work on some keyboard technique. But, overall, I'm getting (and reluctantly accepting) the message that rest and time are the best course of action. I shall meditate on Patience, and drive to conditions.
 

Valski

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Augh. I am SO bummed out. Today I had to make the difficult decision to take a break from my accordion lessons and playing in general because of acute pain in my left wrist. It's been building up for a while now, and I think I am just making it worse every time I pick up the accordion (which I have been doing very enthusiastically since last March). I've been icing it every night, wearing a brace when typing, and trying to rest it from other activities, but it's not getting better. I do a lot of computer work in my job, and I think introducing the new and unfamiliar movement of playing the bass, and doing that every day, just overloaded it too much. Has anyone else experienced this type of wrist pain/injury? What did you do? Any tips or ideas to speed recovery? Exercises I could do to build it back up? It will start to feel better after a few days of ice and rest, and then I play, and even though doesn't hurt while playing, afterwards I can feel it aching again. I'm afraid I need to take a total break and pursue getting some physical therapy, since my home remedies don't seem to be helping. But it makes me super sad because I have been really enjoying learning the accordion, and I just love playing it. Advice (or even just sympathy) very welcome!
I might suggest adjusting the tension on the bass strap. The straps tend to loosen gradually when you play and this can affect your left hand. You have to arrive at a happy medium between too tight and too loose. I have adjusted this strap incorrectly only to find that my wrist hurts when I play for a while.
 

Scuromondo

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Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the empathy and words of wisdom. I did get to talk to my doctor today, and the good news is she thinks it's more an overuse injury and inflamation of the tendons that go from my thumb to my wrist, rather than something like carpal tunnel. They did an x-ray just to rule out anything more dire, and put me in a much more serious splint that basically immobilizes my thumb completely. @JeffJetton those are all great suggestions for keeping my hand in, so to speak. Maybe I can figure out a way to move the bellows that doesn't involve my wrist or thumb, so I can work on some keyboard technique. But, overall, I'm getting (and reluctantly accepting) the message that rest and time are the best course of action. I shall meditate on Patience, and drive to conditions.
I’ve never had tendinitis in my wrist, but have had it elsewhere and it tested my patience for sure, typically requiring 4-6 weeks or even more for full recovery
 

olivigus

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base ttechnique is a whole subject matter of study.
godgi
Oh indeed. And it's what I need the most work on for sure. I'm realizing that I've been in the habit of putting my thumb along the left side of the accordion when working the bellows. I've been watching videos to see how people do it without using the thumb to help push, as I think that may be the root of my current problem. In the meantime, I tried with my lightest weight accordion and I'm able move the bellows enough by putting my wrist splint through the bass strap so I can push/pull gently with my forearm, so I can get some right hand practice in--fills, trills and the like, which I definitely need to work on. @Scuromondo I think your prediction on recovery time is probably spot on and I just need to accept it. @Valski I'll definitely try some adjustment of the bass strap once I'm able to play both sides again.
 

Zevy

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I might suggest adjusting the tension on the bass strap. The straps tend to loosen gradually when you play and this can affect your left hand. You have to arrive at a happy medium between too tight and too loose. I have adjusted this strap incorrectly only to find that my wrist hurts when I play for a while.
I would like to add that the width of the bass strap is also important. Having a wide strap will spread the support and make it much more comfortable for you.
 

Sebastian Bravo

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Yes, I think I need to pay attention to how I'm doing it once I can start playing the bass side again.
If you are getting pain when playing, you need to correct all your body posture! check this video of my friend Adam Bustios, it's in spanish, but i'm sure you'll understand everything.


I don't know if the english autogenerated subtitles are available.

With good posture, You won't have any problem. Just look how F. Lips plays his bayan (+16Kg) without problems at his age.
 

Ffingers

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I enjoy listening to jazz and classical accordionists, who generally speaking have larger and heavier instruments, and watching very carefully how they control their huge squeezies (I don't have a teacher in my locality). There are some slight variations in techniques, but most fit precisely the advice given by Sn. Bustios.
Some observations of my own, from first hand (both hands?) experience, is that an accordion of which the button spacing and/or key sizes are too small for your hands can be a bit of a challenge by forcing them into wholly unnatural shapes.
Ffat Ffingers ;-)
 

Dingo40

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Olivigus,
It just occurred to me: are you placing your left hand far enough foreward through the bass strap?
It should not be resting across the back of your hand, but across the back of your wrist, just above the base of the heel of your thumb just where the two forearm bones join each other and just above the heel of the entire hand (you can see it in Jeff jetton's clip, above).
If you carefully examine the placement of the bass strap on your accordion, you will see it is placed somewhat towards the rear of the instrument ( in playing position) making this a more natural posture.
During play, your thumb should simply be sitting on its heel, poking forward and doing nothing in particular, other than keeping out of the way πŸ˜„).
The strap should be loose enough not to interfere with playing, but tight enough to maintain control of the instrument: looser rather than tighter.
πŸ™‚
Although the angle of the shot could be better, you can get some idea from this clip:
This next clip shows the hand/wrist position better (although the black "glove " does obscure the view somewhat πŸ˜›)
I imagine the purpose of the glove is to overcome the effects of sweat making the back of the arm stick to the bass strap, a common problem in warm conditions.
Personally, I prefer to fit a suitable sleeve over the strap itself: same result, less obtrusive, and it doesn't have the visual effect of making you look like an invalidπŸ™‚
 
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