I’ve been a musician all my life, but I didn’t start to have problems until I started hard 4 hour practicing when I was in university. At the end of my university journey I was experiencing pains in my middle finger and wrists. All those nights practicing passages and octaves 100 times had put a tole to the health of my limbs. I’ve done some therapy and research, and here are some tricks I have been using to prevent some of the pain of repetitive activities. Most of these can be applied if you spend too much time on the computer as well.
1. Do some wrist exercises
On this website is a great stretch for preventing Carpal Tunnel when you’re about to do something repetative for a while. Everybody has their personal preference, but there’s also body stretches you can do before you stick yourself in a practice room for a couple hours. Just think of a runner doing their practice runs for a marathon, they have to stretch too. It’ll loosen up all your joints and your sound too.
2. Give Yourself A Ton Of Breaks
Don’t forget this! Take 15 minute breaks every 45 minutes or 5 minute breaks every 25 minutes. Go for a walk, or even just to redo some stretches again but your body needs a break and so does your mind. Sometimes when you take a break you’ll finally get that passage you couldn’t get earlier.
3. Know Your Limits
Know when to stop practicing. There’s only so much practicing you can do before it doesn’t do anything. In terms of carpal tunnel, all the hand/arm activity you do during the day adds up. So even if you stopped practicing, immediately going on the computer afterwards still stresses the same areas. Limit how much you use those same muscles, or stretch again before using them.
4. Treat Yourself to a Massage
If you’re hurting, you might want to try a massage. I didn’t know the they existed until somebody gave me a gift certificate to one, but there are specific ones for musicians such as The Performance Health Center in Toronto. It’s a great way to loosen up all those tense joints.
Do your best to prevent feeling the pain of Carpal Tunnel. Doctors like to suggest surgeries for it, but they don’t always solve the problem and you might need to do it multiple times. As both a musician and somebody that spends way too much time on the computer, I do these things regularly to maintain that my hands will still work when I turn 90. The 10,000 hours of practice thing might make you a better musician, but let’s be able to play for 10,000 more.