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  1. #1
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    musicians/cyclists: hand problems?

    I started getting some elbow and knee pain when I turned 35 or so but in the last few years I also am getting some numbness in my hands. I play guitar and bass, work at a computer all day and ride whenever I can.

    any other gtrsts have these issues? Any advice?

  2. #2
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    I play guitar, work at a computer all day and have just started commuting on the bike.
    The only thing I notice is that if I don't wear gloves my thumbs get really sore. With gloves it's not a problem.

  3. #3
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    I lift weights(lots of hard gripping), ride everyday, recently took up playing guitar and wrestle.

    No hand problems yet.

    Is it a constant numbness or only after you do a certain activity? You may have a pinched nerve. My aunt had this happen and I believe it's the index, ring and thumb that go numb. The ulnar nerve is the one that is commonly pinched by cyclists.

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    Senior Member liv_rong's Avatar
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    sounds like your coming down eith carpal tunnel

  5. #5
    200 lbs of puddin' Urban Assault's Avatar
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    Find some good gloves. I had the same problem. It took some trial and error but i found some gloves that do the trick for me. I suppose gloves are a personal thing like saddles because I tried Specialized BG gloves but they only made it worse.

    When you do find some that work for you, buy a few extra pair. I had some Pearl Izumi gloves that were perfect for my hands and wore them for a long time. I went to buy more but that model was redesigned and the new pair just were not the same.

    Now my carpel tunnel only flares up when I am trying to play Steve Vai stuff, so I cannot play like that anymore...that's my story and I am sticking to it.

  6. #6
    Out of breath again. suntreader's Avatar
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    Before I began cycling. my left hand would get numb after about ten minutes playing acoustic guitar (never a problem on electric). Now that I ride quite a bit, the numbness has gone away.

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    Michael Gurley, who is the supremely talented lead guitarist for DADA, has had carpal tunnel syndrome for several years. He ices down his wrists several times during concerts.

  8. #8
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    I play guitar, work on a computer and ride lots also. The arthritis in my right wrist pretty much hurts all the time now. I broke the wrist when I was a kid and now it's coming back to haunt me. I can't bend it all the way back because of the stiffness and pain. I play in a band and after about 2 hours of pounding solos and power chords it kills me. I take about 3 Ibuprophen tabs before a gig or before a long bike ride and it helps a little bit.

  9. #9
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urban Assault
    Find some good gloves. I had the same problem. It took some trial and error but i found some gloves that do the trick for me. I suppose gloves are a personal thing like saddles because I tried Specialized BG gloves but they only made it worse.

    When you do find some that work for you, buy a few extra pair. I had some Pearl Izumi gloves that were perfect for my hands and wore them for a long time. I went to buy more but that model was redesigned and the new pair just were not the same.

    Now my carpel tunnel only flares up when I am trying to play Steve Vai stuff, so I cannot play like that anymore...that's my story and I am sticking to it.
    I am about as slow on the gtr as I am on a bike - no Steve Vai worries for me !!!

    I have gotten away from those skinny fast 80s necks - The current trends towards clubby necks (ie, PRS wide fat) has helped me with playing....the extra wood supposedly helps support your hand.

    My numbness (Ulnar, ring and pinky fingers mostly) actually usually occurs when I wake up in the early morning. A heavy Playing session after a layoff seems to aggrivate it, as does riding my hack 3-spd (no bar ends). When I can change hand positions while riding (my other bike has bar ends) I seem to do better. Funny someone mentioned the wrong gloves aggrivate it. I bought some recent specialized gloves with the ulnar pads - I like my old spec gloves (late 90s) with traditional padding better - that plus good cork tape seems to work ....

    I know what to do to help (if not cure) the soreness/numbness.....just wondering about the connection with playing. I also suspect my issues are more upper body (neck/shoulder tension) which transmit down to the extremities.

    My sister (and lots of other people I know) have the same ocasional tingling ginger ale hands first thing in the AM. btw, I don't **** around with my health - I went to a neurologist asap and got tested - no CTS, so that's ruled out, thank goodness.

    The funniest story is how someone's playing was helped by biking! pretty cool!

  10. #10
    Gordon P
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    I use my hands for everything, I have had chronic problems for about five years now (41 years old), and I recently had to choose what I was going to keep doing and what I was going to stop. So playing guitar, kayaking and carpentry are off my list of things to do and this has kept the pain and discomfort to a manageable level. Carpentry was the biggest problem, my doctor encouraged me to change careers, and so I am. In regards to playing guitar, I play fast folk and found that my right hand would be sore for days after an aggressive night of playing. I may play guitar in winter and cycle in summer and maybe that will be the balance that prevents more damage!

  11. #11
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Interetsing Gordon - was that your regualr internist who told you that or a specialist?

    I do find bass kills my hands more than gtr....I know Mike Watt has said he's been on a short scale bass for gigs since he turned 40 to relieve hand pain. Actually it's the right (plucking) hand that kills me after bass.

    My solution has mostly been thicker necks (sound better anyway imho) and raising the bars to just below the seat....I miss the aggro position but I guess that's life. If it means the difference between riding and not riding I'll take the more upright position.

  12. #12
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat
    I started getting some elbow and knee pain when I turned 35 or so but in the last few years I also am getting some numbness in my hands. I play guitar and bass, work at a computer all day and ride whenever I can.

    any other gtrsts have these issues? Any advice?
    I play bass (acoustic/upright) and am at a keyboard all day, and ride about 20-30 miles nearly every day. About 3 months ago, I developed Lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow), caused by keyboarding (deadlines!) and, my physical therapist insists was aggravated by cycling.

    I now do a regimen of hand/arm exercises, simple things really (wrist curls with 1lb weights 5 minutes each arm, grip/twist/release a towel for 5-10 minutes, some others), and it has not come back. I also invested in an "ergo" keyboard, and got inline brake levers so I have an alternative and much more comfortable hand position for long descents. In all things involving the wrist, I strive to maintain a "neutral" position -- not flexed in either direction. Especially with the bass (left hand).

  13. #13
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    I've been playing guitar since I was 9 and cycling for quite a few years.The only time I have trouble is when I play for hours I get this shooting pain in my wrist.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  14. #14
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Any activity that involves gripping or moving the fingers while the wrist is bent can cause problems. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is ugly, and can end careers. CTS is probably my problem, and I am trying to manage it because I do not want a worker's comp situation. I wear a carpal tunnel brace on my right arm when I sleep and much of the time while awake. I have not noticed cycling to aggravate my situation, but I try to always be careful to keep my wrists in a neutral position while riding.

  15. #15
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex G
    Any activity that involves gripping or moving the fingers while the wrist is bent can cause problems.

    I am pretty sure the computer is my main problem. I work in photography, and the work we do has gone from maybe 10% digital in the late 90s to 90% today. This translates into me sitting at desk most of the day . I am sure people in many fields have expericed the same thing.....

    Since I've played and rode all my life but only been chained to a keyboard for the last couple of years, I'd say that's the culprit.....

    this'd be a good time to win the lottery....I'd burn my computer!

    (and start buying a whole bucnha gtrs and bikes!!! )

    and now, it's off to work I go...

  16. #16
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 'nother
    I now do a regimen of hand/arm exercises, simple things really (wrist curls with 1lb weights 5 minutes each arm, grip/twist/release a towel for 5-10 minutes, some others), and it has not come back. I also invested in an "ergo" keyboard, and got inline brake levers so I have an alternative and much more comfortable hand position for long descents. In all things involving the wrist, I strive to maintain a "neutral" position -- not flexed in either direction. Especially with the bass (left hand).
    cool! I have to get back into lifting....I used to do lots of forearm excercises.....never had numbness problems back then, but I've gone from popeye to stickboy in recent years. I've tried to lay off weights cause I already have way too much bulk for cycling, but weight bearing excercise seems to be prescribed for many ills these days. And fwiw, many of my physical issues developed when I went back to school and cut out time at the gym.....now I'm about to graduate so hopefully a little pumping up will do me good.

    Thanks to everybody for all the gr8 info on this topic! Hope it helped others as much it has me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Yep, computers will get ya! My agency's dispatchers had an epidemic of CTS when we went to computer-aided dispatch in the 80's. My right hand is the only one affected, probably because at work, the computer terminal in the car is to the right of the steering wheel, therefore much one-handed typing. It is important to type with the wrist at a neutral angle.

  18. #18
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat
    cool! I have to get back into lifting....I used to do lots of forearm excercises.....never had numbness problems back then, but I've gone from popeye to stickboy in recent years. I've tried to lay off weights cause I already have way too much bulk for cycling, but weight bearing excercise seems to be prescribed for many ills these days. And fwiw, many of my physical issues developed when I went back to school and cut out time at the gym.....now I'm about to graduate so hopefully a little pumping up will do me good.
    Well I would hardly classify these exercises as "lifting". Though it does involve weights, it's just very light weights (1-2 lbs max!) and isometric exercises (e.g. "praying", put your hands together as if in prayer and move side-to-side), and focusing on the muscles around the wrist. I'm not trying to bulk up my arms -- just get enough strength to prevent further injury. I would suggest that you check in with your doctor or physical therapist (NOT just the gym trainer!) for a program specifically geared toward that.

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    What a cool thread! I'm 53, play bass (5 string) in two local cover bands, and work on a computer all day. I've recently developed numbness in my finers after about 20 miles. I've had cts in my right hand (tennis elbow) for 5 years, it was greatly minimized by an ergo board and a trackball mouse. I do beleive all my problems began with the mouse. It's been pretty severe for about 2 months now, but I also fear for disqualification. Besides, my wife had cts surgery, and it worked on one hand, worsened the condition in the other.

    I tried moving the mouse to my left hand, and started having problems with that one as well. Now I try to use the computer less (unfortunately that means less forums), but I basically think age has caught up to me. It's been a good ride though

    I'll try to lift a bit more, and would appreciate a few more exercise options, including when they're best done.

  20. #20
    Senior Member JBar's Avatar
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    I play guitar, kayak, ride and work at a computer all day. I've had some transient problems boating over the years and nothing bad, now, but the worst time period for me was when I really started using a computer a lot. I think something was telling me to quit work and spend more time running rivers, playing music and riding my bike. Will any of you guys pay me to do that?

  21. #21
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBar
    I play guitar, kayak, ride and work at a computer all day. I've had some transient problems boating over the years and nothing bad, now, but the worst time period for me was when I really started using a computer a lot. I think something was telling me to quit work and spend more time running rivers, playing music and riding my bike. Will any of you guys pay me to do that?
    that's what I'm talking about, brother

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