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Hello all,

I wanted to quiz the room on everyone's thoughts about this and how everyone keeps their hands strong and in shape. I know some people are lucky to be naturally blessed with unbreakable bulletproof hands but unfortunately not all of us are. So anyhow, i'm in my 30's and just the SLIGHTEST early bit of pain in my DIP joint of my right index finger. It's not constant and came on about 1 year ago. I work at the computer all day along with playing piano so I know that puts me in a more vulnerable position. I am assuming it's just the very very beginning of osteoarthritis. But i'm going to keep the optimistic mindset and believe that I can reverse it and take more preventative measures since it's so early and due to my own experience with it disappearing for long stretches at a time.

Anyhow, i've learned a lot of things about how to keep my hands feeling good, including keeping my core (and thus my hands) warm while working and playing piano, drinking hot water, not working/playing in a cold room, etc...

Another strike against me is that I also pretty much never use my hands for anything physical. So I think the combo of repetitive micro-movements such as typing, mouse-clicking, piano playing in combo with general under-use and lack of physical conditioning is putting me in a vulnerable spot.

So having said all of that, I've got the idea and the motivation this week to really start forcing myself to use my hands to exercise more in an effort to get those joints the movement, blood flow, etc they need in order to get those healing juices flowing in there. My idea is one that I've read about in various places, which is a rice bucket. You just dip your hands in a big bucket of rice and move them all around. This provides both eccentric and concentric resistance, so i'm hoping if I can stick with it for weeks and months it can improve the resilience of my hands.

Any thoughts? Anyone else have any experience or advice on keeping hands strong and keeping hand ailments at bay? And please don't tell me to quit my job at the computer, because that's not realistic wink

Last edited by dusty1920; 01/30/21 05:20 PM.
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I doubt your rice bucket is going to do much, you need manly things to firm up them hands.

Mountain biking or cycling in general you need strong hands for the brakes.

Painting, building a fence, shoveling etc.

Last edited by Learux; 01/30/21 06:14 PM.

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Wow. There are so many possible causes of joint pain such as arthritis, tendonitis, sprain, gout, etc. You must never, ever play to the point of pain. Stop playing when it hurts because, whatever the problem, pain is an indicator of tissue damage. Best bet: see a doctor before it gets worse, preferably a hand doctor.

Incidentally, a hand therapist had me move my injured wrist/hand into warm, dry sand - similar to the rice. It felt nice but I don't think it did much good.


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Learux, manly things... Oh geez... I can guarantee you 10 minutes of flexing your hand in a rice bucket is going to get your arm burning more than painting the house, even if such "manly" activities make you feel more "manly". I re-did the floor of my house this past summer and just because your swinging a hammer or doing "manly" projects doesn't mean it's more effective than targeted and relevant non-"manly" physical activity.

Last edited by dusty1920; 01/30/21 06:41 PM.
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Wow. There are so many possible causes of joint pain such as arthritis, tendonitis, sprain, gout, etc. You must never, ever play to the point of pain. Stop playing when it hurts because, whatever the problem, pain is an indicator of tissue damage. Best bet: see a doctor before it gets worse, preferably a hand doctor.

Incidentally, a hand therapist had me move my injured wrist/hand into warm, dry sand - similar to the rice. It felt nice but I don't think it did much good.

Gooddog, I agree that going to a doctor is a wise decision in general to rule out anything obvious but i've kind of lost faith in the "establishment", particularly regarding RSI, which they do not understand very well. The fact that mainstream doctors treat tendonitis and tendonosis as the same is one glaring example of their lack of knowledge in this field (Not all, but 98%). I actually gave up playing piano for about 7 years because I adhered to the "stop immediately if you feel pain" mindset. I used to have frequent tendon pain and other various pains in my hands and wrists and gave up on the idea of piano, which left me deeply depressed. Only in the recent year have I realized that SOME pains can be disregarded and are just part of the normal process of your hands becoming conditioned. Very similar to an athlete who returns after the summer off and complains during training camp that they are dealing with all kinds of minor ailments and aches and pains. The most important thing I've found is to start slowly and build up conditioning. I know this to be true because as I continue to play, many of these old aches and pains that used to stop me in my tracks have faded and disappeared completely.

And just so you know, I used to visit A LOT of doctors and never received any advice that helped one bit. Sure was out a lot of money though...

So anyway, i'm kind of seeking advice from the "do more in a SMART manner" camp rather than the camp that suggests taking an advil and taking a month off from using your hands.

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Originally Posted by dusty1920
Learux, manly things... Oh geez... I can guarantee you 10 minutes of flexing your hand in a rice bucket is going to get your arm burning more than painting the house, even if such "manly" activities make you feel more "manly". I re-did the floor of my house this past summer and just because your swinging a hammer or doing "manly" projects doesn't mean it's more effective than targeted and relevant non-"manly" physical activity.

The only reason for my reply the way it was is this sentence in your original post

"Another strike against me is that I also pretty much never use my hands for anything physical"

I think you answered your own initial question "I wanted to quiz the room on everyone's thoughts about this and how everyone keeps their hands strong and in shape"

I just gave you a few pointers, you could instead do some typical female activities of rock climbing, weightlifting or woodchopping to firm up them hands.

You get the idea, good luck.


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Originally Posted by Learux
Originally Posted by dusty1920
Learux, manly things... Oh geez... I can guarantee you 10 minutes of flexing your hand in a rice bucket is going to get your arm burning more than painting the house, even if such "manly" activities make you feel more "manly". I re-did the floor of my house this past summer and just because your swinging a hammer or doing "manly" projects doesn't mean it's more effective than targeted and relevant non-"manly" physical activity.

The only reason for my reply the way it was is this sentence in your original post

"Another strike against me is that I also pretty much never use my hands for anything physical"

I think you answered your own initial question "I wanted to quiz the room on everyone's thoughts about this and how everyone keeps their hands strong and in shape"

I just gave you a few pointers, you could instead do some typical female activities of rock climbing, weightlifting or woodchopping to firm up them hands.

You get the idea, good luck.

Haha I think we're done here...

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You might want to see a PT about this issue. PT hand experts tend to be Occupational Therapists, so same thing. After I had a mallet finger injury and needed to strengthen my hand, the 3 tools I was given were 1) 4 pounds of kidney beans heated in the microwave and move your hand(s) through them for 5 minutes 2-3x/day, and 2) purchase hand therapy putty (available on Amazon and other sites). Warm up your hand and manipulate the putty for 5 minutes 2-3 times/day, 3) work your hand with a cylindrical piece of foam, squeezing it to gain strength.

But I go back to my 1st recommendation to consult a PT.



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The strongest medication I've used for joint pain is CBD ointment. The next strongest is Arnica cream / gel for joint pain.

Before playing, let your hands loose on the keys. The hands & fingers should feel no tension. Play slow pieces (exercise pieces) for warm-up for at least 5 minutes.

Try not to push your muscles as you play. As always start with slow practice. Feel your fingers pressing the keys. Once you press a key, you don't need force to keep it down so just let your muscles relax. At the end of a phrase, ease off the pressure.

I get into playing moderately fast pieces and usually start with half the preferred tempo and work up. The process of learning a piece is most crucial since many would be playing wrong notes before getting them right. A 4 minute piece may take twice as much effort. Once I learned the notes, I'd naturally speed up without having to consciously push myself to play faster.

Only work on the wrong notes and resist the temptation to start from the beginning all the time. Otherwise would require too much effort.

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Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
You might want to see a PT about this issue. PT hand experts tend to be Occupational Therapists, so same thing. After I had a mallet finger injury and needed to strengthen my hand, the 3 tools I was given were 1) 4 pounds of kidney beans heated in the microwave and move your hand(s) through them for 5 minutes 2-3x/day, and 2) purchase hand therapy putty (available on Amazon and other sites). Warm up your hand and manipulate the putty for 5 minutes 2-3 times/day, 3) work your hand with a cylindrical piece of foam, squeezing it to gain strength.

But I go back to my 1st recommendation to consult a PT.

Thanks! Those sound like useful exercise. Mine is super minor so if starts to progress I probably would. I'm just trying to incorporate hand-healthy habits/exercise to heal any minor irritation and keep more at bay.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The strongest medication I've used for joint pain is CBD ointment. The next strongest is Arnica cream / gel for joint pain.

Before playing, let your hands loose on the keys. The hands & fingers should feel no tension. Play slow pieces (exercise pieces) for warm-up for at least 5 minutes.

Try not to push your muscles as you play. As always start with slow practice. Feel your fingers pressing the keys. Once you press a key, you don't need force to keep it down so just let your muscles relax. At the end of a phrase, ease off the pressure.

I get into playing moderately fast pieces and usually start with half the preferred tempo and work up. The process of learning a piece is most crucial since many would be playing wrong notes before getting them right. A 4 minute piece may take twice as much effort. Once I learned the notes, I'd naturally speed up without having to consciously push myself to play faster.

Only work on the wrong notes and resist the temptation to start from the beginning all the time. Otherwise would require too much effort.

Thanks for the tips! I'll keep this in mind. That's good advice.

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It's good to see a physiotherapist about anything like this. Nobody here can tell you if you are doing anything that needs to be rectified.

The Internet is full of imaginary ailments waiting to be diagnosed by people with no medical expertise.

There are many doctors on this forum, and I assume some physios as well, but they wouldn't offer a diagnosis on a piano forum.

Last edited by johnstaf; 01/31/21 02:31 AM.
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In the book „The Technique of Piano Playing“ by Jozsef Gat I discovered a whole set of hand exercises which Liszt recommended to his students. I didn’t find them any useful.

But, funny enough, some time ago I watched a TV documentary about Rachmaninoff and saw him doing exactly these kind of exercises. Perhaps you want to try try them out.

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I have been doing a lot of rock climbing and generally training to reinforce my hands (unrelated to piano) and arm strength. Dont know if that helped to keep my hands in good shape, but i never had any injury from piano. Maybe i am just lucky !

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Have you considered a hot wax bath for your hands?
Ian


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Originally Posted by dusty1920
i'm in my 30's and just the SLIGHTEST early bit of pain in my DIP joint of my right index finger. It's not constant and came on about 1 year ago. I work at the computer all day along with playing piano ... I am assuming it's just the very very beginning of osteoarthritis.

It sometimes makes sense to focus on the problem first. Healthline says before you can decide on the best treatment, it’s important to determine what’s causing the pain.

It goes on to say the most common causes of finger joint pain include, among others, the following two conditions:

Sprain or strain:
Finger sprains or strains are common. A sprain occurs when your finger ligaments become stretched or torn. A strain occurs when your muscle or tendon becomes stretched. These can occur during a sport, a fall, lifting something in an awkward way, and other activities. Symptoms include joint pain and swelling.

Arthritis:
Arthritis often affects the hands and fingers. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common type of arthritis that causes symptoms such as misshapen finger joints, pain, and stiffness.


Not sure why you am assuming it's just the very very beginning of osteoarthritis. Could it perhaps be a recurring finger sprain or strain? I hear these constitute one of the most common forms of piano injury.

One idea to keep a diary of when it occurs. You might then be able to spot some pattern of event what is causing the problem, or find in some other way to do that.

Others can advise how computer and piano technique can cause sprains or strains - i have over-stretching rather than RSI in mind.


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Thanks for the responses everyone! Again, to those saying I shouldn’t be looking for a diagnosis on an Internet forum, I’m not. I’m just asking for similar experiences and how everyone keeps their hands strong and in good shape.

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May I remind you with all due respect that you asked for advice on keeping hand ailments at bay. People go to the trouble of providing that advice and then you say that is not what you are asking for.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
May I remind you with all due respect that you asked for advice on keeping hand ailments at bay. People go to the trouble of providing that advice and then you say that is not what you are asking for.

I think you misunderstood what I’m saying. I said I appreciate the advice and WANTED advice. By saying what I was said, I was refuting those saying I shouldn’t ask the question. So you and I are on the same side. I appreciate your advice!

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Thanks for the clarification. Good luck.


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