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I use open voicing, left-hand, chords frequently. My LH fingering is 5, 2, 1 with the root, fifth (or extension), and seven (thumb). Despite remaining conscious to keep my hand, arm, shoulder, and torso relaxed, I develop sharp muscular (left) shoulder & neck pain when playing these chords. I have been making sure to stretch and remain relaxed, but the pain persists. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I can change to not have pain? Thank you in advance.

Last edited by Mason&Hamlin57; 03/04/21 12:06 PM.
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Make sure you are relaxing and releasing between chords when applicable. A lot of people get the general idea of being relaxed overall (yet few people actually relax), but few understand relaxing after each movement, as well. It's been a loooong time since I taught injury-preventive technique fulltime, and it's too much to write it all out here, but that should get you started.


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The best advice I can give is to stop playing immediately it hurts, always, and don't resume until it stops hurting.

During the stops you can (in a sort of ascending scale of desperation) relax and shake out those muscles, stretch, play other forms of less demanding music, do something else completely different from piano playing to allow time to do its magic, apply exotic potions or preferably get some massage, get professional help. Hopefully, if you follow the first bit of advice you won't travel far down that desperation path but we are all our own worst enemies for this sort of thing - usually until we learn the hard way.

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This forum isn’t for medical advice or piano technique advice in particular, with due respect to those who have already replied.

In the first instance you need to be seen by a doctor and physical therapist.

My only suggestion at this point is make sure you aren’t in any way raising the shoulder when you play. Aside from that get checked out

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Might be aggravated by posture, all kinds of things. Physical therapist can help. Otherwise, try to stretch to that position while not playing. Don’t let those chords sneak up on you.

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Stop playing and see a physiotherapist or doctor.

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I sympathise from painful experience. As everyone is saying you need to see a specialist who can get to the root of problem.


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It may be that you adduct your wrist too much when playing those chords so that it causes tension up in the arm and in the neck. If this is the case, try to maintain more neutral wrist angle.

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Originally Posted by Mason&Hamlin57
I use open voicing, left-hand, chords frequently. My LH fingering is 5, 2, 1 with the root, fifth (or extension), and seven (thumb). Despite remaining conscious to keep my hand, arm, shoulder, and torso relaxed, I develop sharp muscular (left) shoulder & neck pain when playing these chords. I have been making sure to stretch and remain relaxed, but the pain persists. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I can change to not have pain? Thank you in advance.
There's so many things that can be causing this that anything said here is just a guess. I'd have to say this is an unusual complaint. Possibly you are substituting with your left upper trapezius rather than your shoulder muscles when you lift your left arm to move from chord to chord so your left scalenes, and levator scapulae are tight from substitution. Or you have thoracic outlet syndrome, or shoulder impingement, or a rotator cuff tendinitis, or at worse a torn rotator cuff or cervical radiculopathy from nerve root impingement. Maybe you're just tight. Too many blanks to fill and no idea about your medical history. Seek medical help for this. This is just a gentle warning sign to have your neck/shoulder checked out.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
... and levator scapulae are tight from substitution. Or you have thoracic outlet syndrome, or shoulder impingement, or a rotator cuff tendinitis, or at worse a torn rotator cuff or cervical radiculopathy from nerve root impingement.
Oh, my goodness, for a moment I felt like I'm having it all at once. It was scary! laugh

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To add to my previous comment about the root cause of the problem:

On the one hand it could be aggravating an existing condition with perfect playing posture and technique. On the other hand it could be creating a new condition with imperfect playing posture and technique, as ML and TV suggest.

I found it did not take long to feel discomfort in my neck and shoulder with cramped movements and/or adduction/abduction of the wrist.

An analysis of posture and playing technique would useful before visiting a medical specialist. Are most piano teachers able to do this?


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Originally Posted by Withindale
An analysis of posture and playing technique would useful before visiting a medical specialist. Are most piano teachers able to do this?
I agree, most piano related problems are successfully resolved at the piano without a need for medical intervention.

If we're talking about beginner and intermediate student's piano problems I think most teachers are able to identify and correct them. An advanced student needs an advanced teacher.


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