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To ice or not to ice...?
#2900027 10/14/19 05:39 AM
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To ice or not to ice, that is the question!

When I have practised a bit too enthousiastically and a bit too much, sometimes a part of my arms or wrists start to hurt. Usually afterwards - if I feel pain during practice, I stop.
I am not too much bothered about it. I just use some ice and if it is worse, some anti-inflammatory cream, and so far, it has all passed. However, my running friends tell me that ice no longer is the one safe and sure thing to do. Some say that ice will interfere with the natural healing process of the body, and that the only good use of ice is when the injury has just occured, and then just for a couple of minutes, no longer. Also anti-inflammatory creams are doubted - because the inflammation serves to heal the body.

Now I am not so sure. I have had a chronic inflammation that I have healed by daily use of an anti-inflammatory creams. What do you all think? And do? Ice, or not?


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900031 10/14/19 05:55 AM
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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900047 10/14/19 07:02 AM
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I think that medicine and how to treat various pains is better off dealt by real experts. Depending what is actually the cause of the pain can require different treatment. As a general rule, I avoid taking any drugs, creme or other pills unless I am quite sure what is the issue and that the actual drug will in effect be helpful. That was the case when I was training heavily for mountain expedition and I had frequently sore muscles. Any drug has secondary effect which people are not always aware of and in certain cases when taken frequently can create side damage. So I let the body naturally heal, occasionally using ice to reduce the pain when it is a bit sharp. Then a normal practice should not lead to pain afterwards. It is fine if that occurs only occasionally but not if that is frequent.

Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900052 10/14/19 07:30 AM
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Ice is indeed only used for the initial injury, not later. It reduces swelling by reducing the blood flow locally. However, I’d be surprised if your wrists are that swollen. If so, you may be either doing something wrong (technique wise) or have an issue that should be checked (a form of arthritis, possibly)?

Antiinflammatories can be helpful, but risky if used chronically. Once in a while is fine.

Maybe others with more piano experience can comment on warm up stretching and exercises, loose wrists, avoiding tension, etc. For what it’s worth, as I am learning more, I am finding it easier to play with less tension, and it is helping my tone and speed. Excessive tension can cause injury as well.


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900058 10/14/19 08:20 AM
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I don't know anything about your background etc - but I'd suggest maybe consulting with a teacher who can work through the pain, to work out why.

I had pain in various joints, muscles (mainly base of the thumbs) - I now know some is arthritis - but I worked with a Taubman teacher for a few years. She pointed out various stretching, twisting motions - as well as a posture too low. Improving those has regulated the pain considerably.

Yes, I find ice helpful. I've not found anti-inflammatory creams consistently useful - the cynic in me wonders if the massaging of the ointment might be part of the solution. (Instead, I more often take a paracetamol with an ibuprofen - and some yoghurt to buffer my stomach, but only once, maybe twice a day at the most - but check with your own medical expert for advice).

Some people use portable TENS machines too. I've got one - I'm not sure that it helps, maybe it does - but the cynic (again) in me wonders if it's more stopping and doing nothing for 25 minutes is what helps.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900061 10/14/19 08:37 AM
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I sometimes use a hand cream like Blu Emu. But I really think the process of massaging it into my hands is what really makes them feel better - any hand cream would do!

Sam

Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900149 10/14/19 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
To ice or not to ice, that is the question!


In June after too much piano practice, my left forearm was sore. The physiotherapist gave me some exercises to do and gentle massage. Ice was out of the question, she recommends warm compress on my forearm. I think she said that heat will accelerate the healing.

Last edited by Serge88; 10/14/19 12:53 PM.


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900290 10/15/19 02:45 AM
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One of the most effective things I have done in the past to deal with my aches and pains is to soak my feet in warm water containing Epsom salts. I do this regularly and sometimes the relief is significant.

The reason is that Epsom salts contain Magnesium which the body needs to relax its muscles. Sure, you can 'contract' your muscles by using and flexing them, but it requires Magnesium in the body to properly relax them. This is what causes 'arm pump' as the blood flow gets restricted due to the muscles being all pumped up but not relaxing afterwards .

This is problematic for many active people as they may not get enough Magnesium which is one of the reasons muscles can get sore and not relax. [ Not drinking enough water is another]. But as humans, we were designed to absorb minerals through the bottom of our feet! This is why taking an Epsom salt foot bath can be so effective.

If you soak your feet in a warm water Epsom salt bath before bed [I use my wife's Dutch oven when she's not lookin'], you will probably sleep like a baby that night and feel extremely relaxed the next day. If you do this on a regular basis, you may feel a lot less 'tense' after playing for a while as your muscles may now be able to properly relax.

Of course, as with any medical advice, consult with your Dr. first to see if an Epsom salt foot bath is a possible option to try as everyone's situation is different. Having said that, the Epson salt foot bath on a regular basis has worked out well for me in my situation and is something that you may want to discuss with your Dr. to see if it may be a possible option for you to consider.

Good luck!



Last edited by mr_super-hunky; 10/15/19 02:48 AM.
Re: To ice or not to ice...?
mr_super-hunky #2900295 10/15/19 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_super-hunky
One of the most effective things I have done in the past to deal with my aches and pains is to soak my feet in warm water containing Epsom salts. I do this regularly and sometimes the relief is significant.

The reason is that Epsom salts contain Magnesium which the body needs to relax its muscles. Sure, you can 'contract' your muscles by using and flexing them, but it requires Magnesium in the body to properly relax them. This is what causes 'arm pump' as the blood flow gets restricted due to the muscles being all pumped up but not relaxing afterwards .

This is problematic for many active people as they may not get enough Magnesium which is one of the reasons muscles can get sore and not relax. [ Not drinking enough water is another]. But as humans, we were designed to absorb minerals through the bottom of our feet! This is why taking an Epsom salt foot bath can be so effective.

If you soak your feet in a warm water Epsom salt bath before bed [I use my wife's Dutch oven when she's not lookin'], you will probably sleep like a baby that night and feel extremely relaxed the next day. If you do this on a regular basis, you may feel a lot less 'tense' after playing for a while as your muscles may now be able to properly relax.

Of course, as with any medical advice, consult with your Dr. first to see if an Epsom salt foot bath is a possible option to try as everyone's situation is different. Having said that, the Epson salt foot bath on a regular basis has worked out well for me in my situation and is something that you may want to discuss with your Dr. to see if it may be a possible option for you to consider.

Good luck!

That's great advice. I want to add - if muscles are aching/cramping up when you're relaxing (i.e. cramping during sleep or low activitiy) lack of Magnesium may be the culprit. Cramping while active (while exercising or playing piano for extended periods) then Potassium may be the deficiency. It may seem like a small difference, but it's useful to know. I always think Bananas while exercising, Dark Chocolate when relaxing. wink - though I really like the idea of soaking in Epsom salts.


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Groove On #2900297 10/15/19 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by mr_super-hunky
One of the most effective things I have done in the past to deal with my aches and pains is to soak my feet in warm water containing Epsom salts. I do this regularly and sometimes the relief is significant.

The reason is that Epsom salts contain Magnesium which the body needs to relax its muscles. Sure, you can 'contract' your muscles by using and flexing them, but it requires Magnesium in the body to properly relax them. This is what causes 'arm pump' as the blood flow gets restricted due to the muscles being all pumped up but not relaxing afterwards
That's great advice. I want to add - if muscles are aching/cramping up when you're relaxing (i.e. cramping during sleep or low activitiy) lack of Magnesium may be the culprit. Cramping while active (while exercising or playing piano for extended periods) then Potassium may be the deficiency. It may seem like a small difference, but it's useful to know. I always think Bananas while exercising, Dark Chocolate when relaxing. wink - though I really like the idea of soaking in Epsom salts.

Would soaking in Epsom salts help with piano-related tennis elbow? I see mention of it on sport injury websites. It seems that tennis elbow is an inflammation and Epsom salts help with inflammation.


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Serge88 #2900299 10/15/19 04:08 AM
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Thank you all for your answers! Of course, it shows the same differences of opinions as I can find online. I have read all of your replies, but I'll pick here a couple that I want to answer to.


Good article, but rather adding to my confusion than taking it away. At the end, they say: "The bottom line is: use whatever feels best to you! Your own preference is the tie-breaker and probably the most important consideration. For instance, heat cannot help if you already feel unpleasantly flushed and don’t want to be heated. And ice is unlikely to be effective if you have a chill and hate the idea of being iced!" And I do strongly prefer ice in these situations, or anything cooling.

Originally Posted by cmb13
Ice is indeed only used for the initial injury, not later. It reduces swelling by reducing the blood flow locally. However, I’d be surprised if your wrists are that swollen.

Actually, nothing is swollen. Arms/wrist just hurt a bit.

Originally Posted by Serge88
The physiotherapist gave me some exercises to do and gentle massage. Ice was out of the question, she recommends warm compress on my forearm. I think she said that heat will accelerate the healing.

And here is the dilemma right back at me!

Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
the cynic in me wonders if the massaging of the ointment might be part of the solution.

Originally Posted by Sam S
But I really think the process of massaging it into my hands is what really makes them feel better

Massage, always a good idea! And without side effects. smile

Originally Posted by mr_super-hunky
This is problematic for many active people as they may not get enough Magnesium which is one of the reasons muscles can get sore and not relax. [ Not drinking enough water is another]. But as humans, we were designed to absorb minerals through the bottom of our feet! This is why taking an Epsom salt foot bath can be so effective.

I am happy this works so well for you! However, I checked this online, and I found this article. I already take magnesium orally, so I don't think this will be a solution for me.

Originally Posted by cmb13
For what it’s worth, as I am learning more, I am finding it easier to play with less tension, and it is helping my tone and speed. Excessive tension can cause injury as well.

Yes, I also play with much less tension than I used to. Which is not to say that I play without unnecessary tension though...

I'll test the massage. And next time it happens I'll just cool down my painful arm or wrist when it longs for some cold, but I won't use ice.
Thank you! cool


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Tyrone Slothrop #2900300 10/15/19 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by mr_super-hunky
One of the most effective things I have done in the past to deal with my aches and pains is to soak my feet in warm water containing Epsom salts. I do this regularly and sometimes the relief is significant.

The reason is that Epsom salts contain Magnesium which the body needs to relax its muscles. Sure, you can 'contract' your muscles by using and flexing them, but it requires Magnesium in the body to properly relax them. This is what causes 'arm pump' as the blood flow gets restricted due to the muscles being all pumped up but not relaxing afterwards
That's great advice. I want to add - if muscles are aching/cramping up when you're relaxing (i.e. cramping during sleep or low activitiy) lack of Magnesium may be the culprit. Cramping while active (while exercising or playing piano for extended periods) then Potassium may be the deficiency. It may seem like a small difference, but it's useful to know. I always think Bananas while exercising, Dark Chocolate when relaxing. wink - though I really like the idea of soaking in Epsom salts.

Would soaking in Epsom salts help with piano-related tennis elbow? I see mention of it on sport injury websites. It seems that tennis elbow is an inflammation and Epsom salts help with inflammation.

About 20 years ago I had tennis elbow (technically golfer's elbow I think she said seeing I'd been playing golf which I'd never played before!!) and the physiotherapist prescribed rest, and cold and heat before using it - not just the joint but the lower arm muscles as well. I'm fairly sure it was ice first followed by heat before using it again.

I'm not sure whether it was what made it good again - or that I never played golf again.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: To ice or not to ice...?
backto_study_piano #2900303 10/15/19 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
About 20 years ago I had tennis elbow (technically golfer's elbow I think she said seeing I'd been playing golf which I'd never played before!!) and the physiotherapist prescribed rest, and cold and heat before using it - not just the joint but the lower arm muscles as well. I'm fairly sure it was ice first followed by heat before using it again.

I'm not sure whether it was what made it good again - or that I never played golf again.

Thanks for the comment. I will start my own thread for tennis elbow rather than taking over Animisha's icing thread.


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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900306 10/15/19 04:53 AM
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I got tennis elbow doin' pull ups, and golfer's elbow doin' chin ups. Epsom salts sounds like a good idea for a bath, then you can drink some later.
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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900313 10/15/19 05:41 AM
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peterws, you're just a well rounded sportsman *giggling*

Last edited by Jytte; 10/15/19 05:41 AM.

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Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900603 10/15/19 09:03 PM
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I simply gently rub the affected muscle (if it is one) with moderate pressure from the other hand. Usually I find its the muscle that falls more towards the outside of the forearm and about halfway up the forearm. I wonder whether one could gently use a massage ball or some kind of mini roller?

It may come from stiffness. I get it a bit in the right forearm because I have some injuries to my hand and arm that mean the natural tension in that arm is slightly more than the left one. If it is generally stiff and getting inflamed slightly after practise, then I personally would use a combination of heat and gentle massage.

I think ice is more for an actual injury straight afterwards, e.g. fracture, pulled muscle, bruise etc. - heat is for a longer term / recurring muscular tightness and perhaps knotting.

I'm not qualified in any way, just speaking through personal experience and research.

Re: To ice or not to ice...?
Animisha #2900927 10/16/19 03:43 PM
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I thnik what really needs to be fixed is your technique. You should not get pain from playing piano. Stop before damaging yourself and find a teacher or docter that can fix your technique..


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