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Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
#3009703 08/03/20 12:41 AM
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Hi, my practicing is getting a bit curbed because I start developing some wrist pain (where the tendons are, a sort of burning pain so not a muscle thing) when practicing anything very active, like Hanon or scales, especially chromatic scales. My teacher says there's no visible problem with my 'form' or anything, though I could probably take a vid if people want. It also doesn't seem to matter too much if I hold my wrists up higher or lower, it happens nonetheless.

I know one bad habit I have is not moving my elbows much when doing these exercises, but I don't think there's much natural about a lot of elbow-swinging playing these really compact figures, is there?

Has anyone had the same problems when they were starting out? I practice about 90-120 minutes a day with a big proportion of that being Hanon/scales/exercises, is it too much to start?

I'm 32 btw and been playing for about a month, on a Clavinova.

Last edited by BingoDingo; 08/03/20 12:42 AM.
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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009709 08/03/20 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
I practice about 90-120 minutes a day with a big proportion of that being Hanon/scales/exercises, is it too much to start?

I'm 32 btw and been playing for about a month, on a Clavinova.


I think your body is answering the question for you, but of course the problem is doing to much technical exercise.


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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009717 08/03/20 01:53 AM
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I agree with eariofmar that you should cut down quite a bit on the technical exercises. You are obviously very well motivated, so just use that motivation to do some other form of practicing. I generally just spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day on technical exercises such as scales and studies.

It could also be that your arms and wrists aren't properly relaxed. You could try the miyagi technique to help you stay relaxed (if you search on the internet, you'll find videos and descriptions).

I know that when I tried to practice really fast scales, my old tennis elbow problem resurfaced, so I just stopped trying to play them so fast and the problem went away.


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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009720 08/03/20 03:00 AM
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I agree, in my opinion scales should not be started in the first year or two at all. You can't play scales properly technically in that period and you won't benefit from it noticably. Even Hanon is a bit too much in the beginning. I suggest you begin with the simplest exercises first, like this one:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2753522/re-best-exercises.html#Post2753522
No more than 15 minutes of exercises is required daily in the beginning.

You need to work on wrist relaxation first of all and mostly play stuff that promotes wrist relaxation and arm mobility. Don't obsess over fingers for now.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009735 08/03/20 04:08 AM
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I think in another thread about double notes, someone warned you about the potential injury of practicing this exercice so early. There is a reason why certain exercices are not recommended early in the first year for beginners.

Scales, Hanon, double notes and others are exercices that put a lof of tension in the hand and arm. So you first need to develop the proper technique and train your fingers, wrist, .... to play regularly. Then you can start to increase the time spent on these tech exercices. And anyway they are useless so early. In the meantime, like others i suggest you cut down the time and get back to very simple exercices.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009753 08/03/20 07:33 AM
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Ok, I think I will drop some of the technical stuff stuff I'm doing for another month or two and focus more on the sight-reading aspects.

@Alan I will look up the Miyagi method, thanks! I definitely do get some tension in the forearms.

@Iaroslav I don't think "wait two years before starting scales" is normal advice, just want to say that for other beginners who might read this thread. Basically everyone (including my teacher) says to start them as soon as you have the stamina to do so. But you are right, I probably do have a finger obsession (sounds dirty xD), I will try to find beginner's exercises that cover stuff other than finger strength/figures and take a look at what you linked.

@Sidokar Again, for other people who might read this, the "dangerous exercises" Sidokar is talking about is not a double-notes exercise, just slowly practicing voicing the top or bottom note of a double-note. In that thread I was unilaterally told to focus on exercises, instead . . . I think some people just like to say "do it different" to however someone is practicing haha

Last edited by BingoDingo; 08/03/20 07:34 AM.
Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009756 08/03/20 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
My teacher says there's no visible problem with my 'form' or anything ...

I find it interesting that you have been playing for only a month, you have a teacher, yet .... you seem to be making decisions independent of your teacher on various very important concepts.

I would suggest you talk this over with your teacher and try making at least a combined decision.

Otherwise, what is the point of having a teacher ?


Don

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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009774 08/03/20 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
@Sidokar Again, for other people who might read this, the "dangerous exercises" Sidokar is talking about is not a double-notes exercise, just slowly practicing voicing the top or bottom note of a double-note. In that thread I was unilaterally told to focus on exercises, instead . . . I think some people just like to say "do it different" to however someone is practicing haha

I think people on this forum, some having played for many years, will give you their honnest opinion, sometimes in a fairly directive manner, but nonetheless with the intention of sharing their experience. I think probably the most common error of adult beginners is wanting to go very fast and tackle things too difficult or too advanced in the wrong way, which is quite easy given that they have no experience.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009809 08/03/20 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
. . . I think some people just like to say "do it different" to however someone is practicing ...

Which is exactly why you should be discussing these things with your teacher instead of a forum where you have no idea if the advice you get is good or bad.


Don

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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3009823 08/03/20 12:02 PM
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One common problem you could check for is something that may not be easily visible to the teacher. Are you continuing to exert pressure on the keys past the point of sound?


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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
jdw #3010705 08/06/20 07:10 AM
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@jdw I feel like the answer is yes, but can you elaborate? I mean, at least as much pressure to keep the keys depressed enough to get legato in these exercises. But I do kind of feel like I am always 'holding the keys down against the felt' so to speak, almost pushing my hands and wrists up by my fingers if that makes sense.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3010707 08/06/20 07:12 AM
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@dmd I did discuss it. The only 'independent decision' I'm making is to cut down on the technical exercises for a month or two and see if this problem persists. I get to make that decision because . . . ya know . . . I'm an adult xD

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3010791 08/06/20 11:34 AM
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- You should try some stretching before practice. There are numerous ones on YouTube.
- If a particular technical exercise bothers your hand, drop it.
- Do acoustic pianos cause the same discomfort? The inertia quality on my acoustic action is must easier on my hands than the digital I used to own, where I had to press the keys further into the action.
- Break up long sessions into smaller ones or at least take breaks.

BTW, my teacher had me learning scales early on.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3010792 08/06/20 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
@Iaroslav I don't think "wait two years before starting scales" is normal advice, just want to say that for other beginners who might read this thread. Basically everyone (including my teacher) says to start them as soon as you have the stamina to do so.
I was taught differently.

Originally Posted by BingoDingo
@jdw I feel like the answer is yes, but can you elaborate? I mean, at least as much pressure to keep the keys depressed enough to get legato in these exercises. But I do kind of feel like I am always 'holding the keys down against the felt' so to speak, almost pushing my hands and wrists up by my fingers if that makes sense.
I think jdw means that the weight of the arm is more than enough to depress any key and to keep it depressed, there is no need to push down on the keys, especially on a depressed key, just relax reasonably your arm when you reach the bottom of a key. Try slowly.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3010825 08/06/20 01:15 PM
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@TBell I will DEFINITELY check out some stretching vids for piano, I have scoliosis so it's extra-plausible that it's related to those sorts of things. I'm also gonna stop playing chess on my phone - lots of thumb swiping and extending - and get some cushions for the (hard, plastic) arm rests on my computer chair.

I don't know if an acoustic piano would be different, but I can tell you for sure that the felts on my (used) digi are completely spent, very clattery. I wonder if the percussive impact is contributing, I'm gonna swap the felts myself next week. And yes, I do have to go to the bottom of the action to keep the notes sustained; checked that last night after jdw's post. I've been breaking them up already this week, but it's not helping. I'm actually already gonna have to take a few days off, it's gotten worse every day =/

@Iaroslav Well . . . it appears that maybe I don't have the stamina for them anyway, so it's a moot point xD And ok, I definitely am using arm weight, rather than pressure-from-the-finger, so hopefully that is OK. I think it may be that the felts are totally worn, causing some 'impact'. Or at least I hope so. I am one of those people who has been pacing around at night listening to Horowitz and Berman for 20 years but never actually learned to play, until now. I will be really sad if there is some anatomical problem that makes it impossible.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3010840 08/06/20 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
I am one of those people who has been pacing around at night listening to Horowitz and Berman for 20 years but never actually learned to play, until now. I will be really sad if there is some anatomical problem that makes it impossible.
No, I am absolutely sure there is no anatomical problem. Just a small technique problem very common among beginners.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3011171 08/07/20 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BingoDingo
@dmd I did discuss it. The only 'independent decision' I'm making is to cut down on the technical exercises for a month or two and see if this problem persists. I get to make that decision because . . . ya know . . . I'm an adult xD

You're only playing a month and your teacher has you doing Hanon? That's not a good sign. You should never experience pain playing the piano. Never.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3011242 08/07/20 04:09 PM
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Over the nine months that I’ve been playing, I’ve had various pains in just about every part of both hands, wrists and forearms (not to mention my back).

It’s never bothered me that much because I realise that I am now doing things with my hands that I’ve never done before and therefore it’s probably come as a shock to my body now having to do such weird things.

I've never had to stop playing completely. I just practice very simple stuff very cautiously for a while and should I feel that I’m causing aggravation, I’ll take a break.

It’s usually obvious to me what’s causing it. I just have to go through a normal practice and instantly recognise which manoeuvre is pressing on that pain point.
I very rarely have pain playing music pieces. It’s the repetitive motions like arpeggios, chord exercises and Hanon exercises that are almost always to blame.

I started to get a pain in my right forearm last week but I know why and have slowed down what I was doing. I’ll speed it back up gradually and if it occurs again, I’ll slow it down again.

I'm happy to say that I am totally pain free at the moment (I don’t just mean during the time that I’ve been playing the piano. Pains that I had prior have gone too) but undoubtedly I will come across another exercise that causes me to do things with my body that I’ve never done before and there may be repercussions in which case I will need to recognise what I am doing differently and slow it down.

While practicing, I also try to frequently ask myself the question 'How tense are my arms and hands?' and usually the answer is 'extremely tense' so it’s no surprise that I get the odd pains.

Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3011339 08/07/20 08:04 PM
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Sorry to be late in replying, but I'm glad to see Iaroslav has clarified things. You should not feel a sensation of pushing or pressing after the key is struck. You want to be just resting on the bottom to keep the key down. That pushing could easily be causing the pain you've talked about.

It sounds as if the mechanics of your keyboard may be part of the problem. Even so, this is a habit that takes some sustained attention to break. I used to press without even realizing it, unconsciously thinking it would make a better sound. On a properly working piano, pressure after striking has no effect on the sound, but it can hurt your body.


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Re: Wrist Pain with Finger Exercises?
BingoDingo #3012129 08/10/20 12:34 AM
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@jdw I will be extra-conscientious about pressing down on the keys; it may be that I'm doing it with some figures and not others, so I will just make a point of watching for it.

My teacher says that my hands are very tense whenever I am using wrist motion, like making a claw and then rolling it. Especially relevant for the chromatic scales, I was exaggerating the wrist aspect apparently. I am practicing keeping my wrist and hand relaxed when using wrist motion.

@treefrog Same, it's scales and finger exercises only for me as well. I took 2 days off and have just been practicing my pieces and some non-agile sorts of exercises (polyrhythms, voicing) instead of Hanon/scales etc with no pain or wrists feeling warm. I had also been incorporating Plaidy/Schmitt/Philipp as part of my sightreading work, I'm not going to do that any more, and then slowly get back into the Hanon/scales after a couple more days' rest.

I haven't looked up stretches yet, should I be looking for stretches specifically for piano or for carpal tunnel? Recommendations?

Last edited by BingoDingo; 08/10/20 12:40 AM.
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