Right Shoulder Problems, anyone?



  • ArtArt New
    Posts: 1
    I've had shoulder problems.

    You are creating too much tension in one way or another, the common short list is:

    -Trying too hard. Yes, lighten up. Realise that you can do a lot less and get the same results. As this gets ingrained very easily you are going to have to play very slowly to be able to notice the tension and then get rid of it.
    I recommend this book on the topic.
    Get 'The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar'. The picking advice is not in the gypsy style, however the excercises and book will raise your awareness of tension. This book is about approaching the instrument and practice, rather than musical excercises. Just get that one book however, the others won't really apply.

    -Posture. What is bad posture? Bad posture is when you hold yourself in an unbalanced position. Note that you can be in pretty much any position you want for short periods of time, but if you are going to be staying in one position for a long time- it better be a good one.
    Muscles work in pairs, when you are overworking one of the pair, and not working the other, the working muscle gets strained and the unused one becomes weak. This causes pain in the working muscle, and because the other muscle is weak, very difficult for you to get back into a balanced position, it will feel tiring and impossible.
    A great piece of basic posture advice is-
    -Make sure you are sitting on your sitting bones, not rounding the bottom of your back and sitting on your tail bone.
    -Relax your neck back a bit (although this might require a little muscle use at first). Make sure that your neck goes back and UP and not down. Imagine there is a piece of string attached to the point on the back of your head Directly between your ears. Now some grand puppet master is pulling this string upwards. The result should be a longer spine.

    -Playing too quickly. If you are trying to play too quickly, your muscles will tighten up as you 'try' to play. Play slowly and perfectly, very easily. Then practice at the next tempo where it is easy. Always make playing easy and it always will be. The great guys make it look easy when they play, becaues to them it is.

    Now once you have created a problem from these different sources of tension, what is it that keeps the pain there? That means that 5 minutes of playing can cause pain, even after days or weeks of resting?
    Trigger points and tight myofascia.
    Trigger points are muscle knots created by overuse/misuse. They can be felt and range from the size of a pin head to a pea. They cause all sorts of pain, especially reffered pain. Where misuse in the neck will create a trigger point there, the trigger point can cause pain the shoulder, back, arms, hands.
    Myofascia is 'connective tissue'. It is a web of tissue that attaches to the muscles all over the body. When muscles are constantly tight, the myofascia hardens and makes it hard for the muscles to release. In heavy duty cases it is often described as a whole layer of muscle having being created, and needing to be worked away before you can get to your real muscles.

    Self treatment for triggerpoints. There is one great book and you can find it Here

    You can also get proffesional treatment, which is of course the best.

    Once you have released trigger points and tight myofascia, you are still going to have your bad postural and tension habits ingrained. You need strengthen the unused muscles. This CAN be done by assuming a good posture and the muscles naturally gaining the strength they need, but this is rarely ever the case. This is the work of physiotherapists. If you get professional treatment for your mysofascial release/trigger points then they are likely to prescribe you some excercises (often pilates ones) to get this strength back. I would recommend this as the course of treatment of choice.
    Note that it is not smooth sailing, as in 'released myofascia, now I can play again'.
    Your habits are ingrained, but can be overcome with a matter of weeks. You need to be able to treat yourself so that you can do a muscle release, then play, and keep doing that until eventually you need to do little or no work on your muscles as you are not creating any problems. While this can take a fair bit of time, it does mean you can play during this time, and be able to relieve your pain symptoms.

    Hope this helps.
  • RKatzRKatz London✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 184
    A lose wrist is all important in this style for a number of reasons, tone, attack, etc, however for those not used to playing with a bent wrist from the age of four be careful of over bending the wrist. A bent wrist will suppress nerves in the wrist and that can lead to problems. It is possible to play this style correctly with a straighter wrist, I think Bireli plays a bit like this.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    here's an interesting thing:

    ritary is trying to learn to pick a la everyone else (wrist on bridge)... and he's having a really hard time getting used to it, and it feels awkward for him... to him the idea of using alternate picking is quite difficult and i had to show him a few really basic exercises to work on:
    e          5
    b 5 6 8      8 6 5

    using only alternate picking, right now he's still practicing it real slow
  • chrissotochrissoto New
    Posts: 5
    I've been digging into the gypsy jazz style heaps in the past 2 months or so. Daily practice as much as I can. I rest as much as possible but I have been getting right shoulder pain around the joint area and also the top shoulder muscle. I've been doing everything as carefully as possible. I have previously broken my collar bone (about 2 years ago), and maybe that has something to do with it?
    What are the main things I should observe that I may be doing wrong?
    I always keep my wrist as relaxed as possible, and there is no pain there. Just the shoulder.

  • lacrossehotclublacrossehotclub La Crosse WI✭✭✭ Dupont Nomade
    edited January 2011 Posts: 116
    You could try elevating your right foot 3-4 inches (assuming you're right handed). It helped me when I suddenly started to have some shoulder and back issues. Try a stack of books - say Plato's Republic and War & Peace... If that helps you could invest in a decent foot rest for $15-20. Personally I now use a foot rest when I practice but forgo it at gigs as it tends to get in the way.
  • Make sure your posture is good and that you are not straining I had a 6 month battle with acute subchromial bursitis in the right shoulder that I finally won Therapy up the ying yang and had to re learn posture and arm positions. Fine now
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • SteveGypsyJazzSteveGypsyJazz Sherman Oaks✭✭
    Posts: 22
    Obviously something you're doing is creating pain and tension while you are performing. Just what you're doing is something that you possibly wouldn't be able to determine on your own or without some very good self observation.

    Look into Alexander Technique. I found this to help with a number of performance related body issues. This is a system that was developed by an actor who was suffering from body tension induced laryngitis.

    Here's the Wikipedia description:

    "The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines the Alexander technique as an education/guidance system to "improve posture and movement, and to use muscles efficiently."[1] The Alexander Technique denotes both the educational methods used by Alexander teachers and the individual bodily awareness methods taught. Students practice the technique to recognize and become free of habituated limitations in their manner of movement as well as for other benefits."

    If you bring your guitar to a session, the practitioner would help you "direct" how you're using your body while you're playing.

    Weight problem? Try the old Body for Life book-- it would require weight lifting 3 hours per week and cardio for about 60 minutes total per week-- and probably some sort of diet modification, (can you afford the time away from guitar practice and also practice without the sugar?).

    All the Best,

  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    chrissoto wrote:
    I've been digging into the gypsy jazz style heaps in the past 2 months or so. Daily practice as much as I can. I rest as much as possible but I have been getting right shoulder pain around the joint area and also the top shoulder muscle. I've been doing everything as carefully as possible. I have previously broken my collar bone (about 2 years ago), and maybe that has something to do with it?
    What are the main things I should observe that I may be doing wrong?
    I always keep my wrist as relaxed as possible, and there is no pain there. Just the shoulder.


    I had the exact same problem for a while but cured it.

    Try not hunching up your right shoulder when you play (assuming you are playing righty). It seems that I because I like to play on my couch I was sinking down too low, which made me raise my shoulder. Now I still play on the couch, but the shoulder pain went away.
  • MundoMundo Las Vegas, NevadaNew
    Posts: 104
    While I try to practice with good posture it goes out the door when I'm gigging! That being said during long practice sessions or gigs my right shoulder always kills. My problem was wrapping around favino sized axes. Sold my Dell Arte Rosenberg favino, and got a selmer style Holo and now the pain is gone, and I'm back to my normal bad posture!
  • sketchsketch New
    Posts: 33
    i'm a beginner but as far as i know the most important thing is to not overdoing. this means: have a break time to time while exercizing, maybe 5 minutes evry 30 minutes, and if you suffer inibitory pain just stop it for the day. Playing while suffering moderate or stronger pain could cause problems which are not easily resolvable: recovering times for muscles injury could take months, even years if not considered. Still, pain could mean a lot of things: could be the muscles which are adaptating on the new form, and this is typical the 2 or 3 days after the exercize (working out on this, taken the right resting time, is not wrong, just you should not overdo it), but could be also a charley horse or a common contracture, which are major injuries with a long recovering time. Bad symptom: you start feeling pain and then after a bit keeping on using that muscle you stop feeling pain: that means you are damaging yourself. If the reason of the pain is tendonitis the problem could be worse if ignored leads to recidivism (which mean treatable but not curable). As said by others the first thing is understanding the reason: is you posture THAT wrong? Have you ever been to a physiatrist? You should check the mole of your muscles (if you have teen muscles you should check your alimentation* and, after a break of some weaks, start a program of exercizes, and only then start again playing with costance), and you tendons (some people have very small tendons which sadly are not suitable for playing and easily inflamable), also if your pains really kills you you should stop for a month or two (i know, it's very hard, but it's for the best since it's better a two months stop than a lifetime injury maybe leading to quitting playing at all). one observation comes easily, anyway: not only the posture on guitar is important: how much time do you spend on computer for example? do you suffer these pains also grabbing the mouse? wrong posture on computer appears to be the source of most of these problems, and you should check this matter too.

    *Alimentation and exercizes are strictly linked, since there's a time for proteins and a time for carbos.

    In the end, you should talk with a physiatrist, it's really important not understimate these problems. I'm with you, i whish you the best.
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