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#454934 - 06/28/01 10:31 AM Wrist & forearm pain
Patti Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 42
Loc: Dallas, TX
How you you tell the difference in pain that is just muscles in the wrist & forearm being worked and what is bad pain, i.e., CTS or tendonitis? When I play fast music or fast scales my wrists and forearms begin to tire and hurt slightly. I think it's just the exercise of the muscles, so I haven't been concerned, but should I be?



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#454935 - 06/28/01 10:44 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
Samejame Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 808
Loc: NL, Canada

I would think that the pains to worry about are the ones that persist after you've finished practicing. I often feel fatigue and pain in my hands and fingers, especially when extending my relatively small hands for chords and arpeggios an octave or more. However when I finish playing, it generally subsides. I think that if you are practicing frequently enough, these muscles will develop.
On the other hand (pardon the pun), every time I use my computer mouse, I get this dull ache in my wrist, which I think is more of a repetitive strain problem, as it starts as soon as I use it, and generally does not go away until some time after.
I thinnk this is the difference between something that you just need to work on, and something to worry about.

"A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" Oscar Wilde.

#454936 - 06/28/01 03:21 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
A symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, isn't it? I relative of mine had this and it was diagnosed by electrical analysis of nerves.

Does your piano have a heavy action?

#454937 - 06/28/01 03:28 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
i don't believe you should ever feel pain when playing the piano. if you do, it is likely due to improper body mechanics. try to get some coaching from an Alexander Technique instructor who can analyze your body mechanics and correct you. There are talented pianists who have had to give up playing because of these problems. Don't ignore them!

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#454938 - 06/28/01 04:02 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
Patti Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 42
Loc: Dallas, TX
Thanks all for your input. The pain does not persist after I stop playing and theres no numbness.

So Pique, couldnt muscles in the arms and wrists get worked and sore just like any other muscles? Any pain is bad? There was a discussion here on the Alexander Technique a long while back. I think I saved a web address for it. Ill take a look. I definitely dont want to ignore this if its problematic.

MacDuff, yes my pianos action is on the heavy side. Ive had a Mason & Hamlin BB for about 10 months after having a Kawai upright. I may still be getting used to the heavier action.


#454939 - 06/28/01 05:06 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
hi patti,
yes, you can get sore from working out your muscles, but i would contend that if that is happening, you are not properly conditioning your muscles to your new, heavier action. this can result in chronic problems.

there are excercises you can do, both on and off the piano, to stregnthen your hands, wrists, and forearms. someone who is knowledgeable should show you these in person and monitor your performance of them. but failing that, i would stop playing just as soon as you start to hurt. don't keep playing!

if your biomechanics are correct, and it is just a matter of adjusting to the new action, you should gradually be able to play longer and longer on your new piano without pain.

but continuing to play when there is pain is not a good thing.

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#454940 - 07/06/01 06:31 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH

I've recently been taking some Alexander Technique and recommend it. They have lot's to offer.

From my personal experience, I've found that discomfort in the lower part of the arm and wrist can sometimes be caused by something not quite right further up, i.e., the elbow, upper arm, or shoulder area.

I'd also like to pass on a few tips I've been given over the years. Since our fingers and wrist are repeatedly used in one direction when practicing and playing, it is beneficial when finished to excercise the muscles in the opposite direction. One thing to do is take the finger tips of one hand with the other and bend the hand backwards--not forcefully, just give it a nice stretch back and let the elbow and shoulders be relaxes when you do this (don't over do it!). Another thing is to take a rubber band and place it around the finger tips and thumb and then open and close the fingers. It's like pumping iron with the fingers. This does not need to be done for very long--just a little bit. Both these excercises are a nice way to counter the uni-directional use of the muscles during practice.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#454941 - 07/07/01 12:18 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain
Hakki Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3575
Very useful info given here. I would like to add one more advice. Chopin always reminded his students not to forget to stretch their hands. Just close your fingers slowly and then again slowly open them fully strecthed out (4-5 times).


#2496945 - 01/04/16 11:38 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: Patti]
TwelfthRoot2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/09
Posts: 105
Loc: OH, USA
With all due respect, the original post was almost 15 years ago. It's one thing to reply to a thread in order to offer advice to future viewers, and it's another to promote a book.
I'm a slave to the position of the keys, not the position of the fingers.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

- Henry Ford

#2496947 - 01/04/16 11:40 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: paulwhite743]
dogperson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 1805
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By paulwhite743
Hi Patti,

I think one of the major causes of stiffness is when people hold out their hands horizontally with the support of the upper muscles of the forearm. When playing lightly I prefer to let the hands hang down loosely, or when resting arm weight on the keys, the key beds will support the hands in a horizontal position. I have a chapter on therapeutic exercises in my free Guide to Piano Technique, which can be found via this link:

Hi Paul
Do you realize you are replying to a message from 2001, that has been inactive since that date??
"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin

"My toy was my piano" -Alicia de Larrocha
"Just waiting until I can retire from my day job so my piano can be my toy"- dogperson

#2496950 - 01/04/16 11:44 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: dogperson]
paulwhite743 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/29/15
Posts: 14
Loc: England
Many thanks ! I have just joined the website a couple of days ago, and forgot to look at the date !
Best wishes, Paul

#2497205 - 01/04/16 11:20 PM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: piqué]
pv88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 3494
Originally Posted By piqué
i don't believe you should ever feel pain when playing the piano. if you do, it is likely due to improper body mechanics. try to get some coaching from an Alexander Technique instructor who can analyze your body mechanics and correct you. There are talented pianists who have had to give up playing because of these problems. Don't ignore them!


[And, the original poster]

You are absolutely right that one should NEVER experience pain when playing as I have found myself in this situation many times. A professional may need to be consulted with if you are not able to make or find the appropriate "pain free" motions when playing including sitting posture. Here is someone that I recommend:

"Freeing the Caged Bird" -- DVD

It is worth ordering and taking a look at Barbara Lister-Sink's DVD above to get some real insight into how the piano should be played -- i.e., pain free.

Had developed many bad habits myself which become ingrained over the years and are difficult to correct and to this day my posture is not always right and back and shoulder pain is inevitable.

When you are older it's harder to teach an old dog new tricks.

Stop playing if pain ensues.
Roland V-Piano | Yamaha CLP-585 | Yamaha CLP-990M | Kawai EP3

#2497222 - 01/05/16 12:49 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: dogperson]
chopin_r_us Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 2000
Loc: London
Originally Posted By paulwhite743

Another quite lengthy treatise on something that is really quite straight forward (if you're in the know that is).

#2497230 - 01/05/16 01:17 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: Patti]
phantomFive Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 3207
Loc: California
I hope her problem was solved and now she is a magnificent pianist.
Poetry is rhythm

#2497928 - 01/07/16 06:15 AM Re: Wrist & forearm pain [Re: Patti]
Rockefoten Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/03/14
Posts: 1
You may want to try some foam rolling or even just rolling your forearm and hand on a tennisball..

I practiced something too much some time ago and got very stiff and achy forearms. Foam rolling really helped.

The rationale can be read by searching self-myofascial release.


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