Pain in violin arm


Rebecca said: Jun 3, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
West Valley City, UT
12 posts

I’m working with a high school student over the summer who reports experiencing pain near her elbow on her violin arm. Not necessarily while she is playing. Does anyone have any possible suggestions to offer about why and what we can work on?

Michelle McManus Welch said: Jun 3, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Lindenhurst, IL
42 posts

Could she be squeezing her thumb when she plays? Or doing tennis or some other sport that is stressing her arm?

Michelle Mc Manus Welch

Aurora Adamson said: Jun 4, 2013
Aurora Adamson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Saint Cloud, MN
6 posts

Tension in our necks from our jaw holds can produce nerve pain lower down our arms. Neck stretches and icing her neck might alleviate the pain, if so. Trying some different shoulder rests and maybe a different height of jaw rest might also help.

Carol Gwen said: Jun 4, 2013
Carol Gwen Kiefer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Washington Crossing, PA
75 posts

Take pain seriously.
Has she been seen by a doctor?

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 4, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I would agree with Carol—has she talked to her dr. about this? How long has it been going on?

Releasing any unnecessary tension in the neck, back, & in both hands, is where I would start in the lessons AFTER recommending that she ask a dr. about this; also find out what other activities she does that may strain the arms/elbow? Can she rest that arm from practicing music, AND from those activities for a few days to see if the pain subsides?

… for your own research, and for stretching ideas and lots of other info on musician’s injuries, I’d recommend checking out the book “Playing (less) Hurt” by Janet Horvath. Also for general ideas about taking care not to cause a situation where injury can occur easily, try (the much shorter book) “How Muscles Learn: Teaching Violin with the Body in Mind” by Susan Kempter.

Anita Knight said: Jun 4, 2013
Anita Knight
Suzuki Association Member
Kent, WA
19 posts

Wonderful responses, Rebecca! What a wealth of information.
I had arm issues for 5 years. My teacher finally realized that my elbow came around the instrument when I shifted to high positions, but when I shifted down, the elbow stayed torqued, didn’t return to neutral. I don’t know if this is the case with your gal, but its worth checking.
The sleuthing continues!

Anita Knight
“Joyful Sound Violin Studio”

Sue Hunt said: Jun 5, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Visit Violinist in Balance to see the interesting project to help young students to make their violin hold more ergonomic.

“Individual problems of balance were addressed by eleven violin and viola students at the Utrecht School for the Arts, Faculty of Music in the Netherlands. With professional supervision they improved their individual comfort and mobility with modifications of chin and shoulder rest. At the same time they re-trained cramped playing habits, using the Alexander Technique, to improve their playing technique. As a group they came up with new solutions, and recorded their experiences. In the process they overcame most of their playing difficulties.”

Laura said: Jun 6, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Palm City, FL
105 posts

There is so much involved when setting up a violinist. It sounds like there may be a prior injury or “outside of violin” reason that it hurts. But if you find it is related to violin then I have learned a lot from this book:

How Muscles Learn

Good Luck.


Erin Rushforth said: Jul 26, 2013
Erin Rushforth
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
San Antonio, TX
19 posts

Ulnar nerve entrapment can cause pain in the elbow, arm, and sometimes wrist. I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome in my violin arm earlier this year because of overuse. I found a massage therapist who had successfully treated a violinist with the same diagnosis, and her treatments led to a complete and swift recovery for me. I don’t know if your student is experiencing something similar, but it could be worth looking into.

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