on the preservation of wrists

said: May 3, 2010
 13 posts

What measures can one take to avoid straining one’s wrists?

Jennifer Visick said: May 4, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

I assume you mean while playing an instrument? Which instrument are you talking about?

First, if you already have shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, or finger problems or pain, consult your doctor and your private teacher. I am not anyone’s doctor, so THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE and should only be taken as a generalization, as advice for a probably better musical technique and not as specific advice for any specific problem of any specific person.

In general, if fingers are doing any action similar to typing or pressing a string down or depressing a key, then wrists probably ought to be kept “neutral”—that is, both without very much tension, and in the center of their range of motion, (not deviating to the right or left, nor “collapsed” in (down if the palm is facing down) or out (up if the palm is facing down)).

Gentle, long stretches (15 to 30 seconds each) by gently pulling the fingers & hand back (up if the palm is facing down) or forward (down if the palm is facing down) can be helpful after warming up and before intense focused practice, during practice breaks, and after practicing but before cooling down.

Thinking of practice in terms of “warming up” “actual practice” and “cooling down” can also be helpful. Both warming up and cooling down should be physically “easy” and never skipped for lack of time. Remember that the “warm” part of warming up is literal—if you are cold, if the practice room or performance area is cold, you literally need to warm up your body before doing “warm up” scales or whatnot on your instrument.

If you are cold, a hat, long sleeves and/or special thin fingerless gloves or full body mild exercise to get your heart pumping blood faster (walking around the block before starting, for example), or warm water running over your hands and forearms or a hot shower before practicing could all help.

Check out “Teaching the Violin with the Body in Mind” by Susan Kempter; “Playing (less) Hurt” by Janet Horvath; or other books along those lines.

Anything you learn from an “ergonomic” standpoint in the office regarding why and what the best way to type, sit at your computer, etc., is, can probably be applied to playing an instrument.

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