Musicians have a tough job. Gigs dominate your time, rehearsals take up most of your days, and you have to spend long hours in the practice room. If you choose this career, be prepared to work hard—your talent and hard work will be the keys to success. As with any physical activity, being a professional musician is risky for your health; overuse injuries can be expected. Conductors, percussionists, and string players may be especially vulnerable due to their instruments’ physical strain. Chances are you’ve been one of them—perhaps you still are! Whether you’re a newbie or an events veteran, we can tell you this much: every single (or almost every) instrumentalist has struggled with tendinitis at one point in his or her life.
Preventing & Managing Wrist Tendinitis
Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon. Tendons connect muscle to bone and allow us to move our muscles. When tendons become inflamed and swollen, they can cause pain and limit movement in the associated joint. Tendinitis can affect any area of the body with a tendon, however, it most often affects the wrist or elbow. Stretching exercises are one way to help reduce this condition. If you have tendonitis of the wrist, this article is for you. We’ll teach you how to handle tendonitis
A great way to keep the wrist healthy is by performing dynamic stretching before you play. This is like self-treating therapy for musicians. Dynamic stretching involves moving your body through a full range of motion and contracting and relaxing muscles as you move. It’s different from static stretching, which involves holding a position for some time.
Dynamic stretching can be done in a variety of ways, but one simple option is to use a rubber band to pull your hand back into a fist and hold it there for 10 seconds or so. Then release and repeat with the other hand. This will warm up your muscles and increase blood flow to your hands. You should also take breaks between songs and play lighter notes during these periods, which will help prevent strain on your wrists.
Check Your Grip
Some musicians develop wrist tendonitis because their grip is too tight. This can make it difficult to relax when playing because your hands are constantly gripping tightly onto your instrument. If you have chronic pain in your wrist, one of the first things to check is your grip. If you are using an incorrect grip on your instrument, it can lead to improper alignment of the wrist and forearm during play, which can cause inflammation and pain. Changing your grip may be enough to eliminate pain or at least reduce it significantly.
Check Your Posture
Another common cause of wrist tendinitis among musicians is poor posture while practicing or performing. If you are hunched over when playing, or if you don’t have good alignment of your back, shoulders, and neck while playing, this can also contribute to inflammation and pain in your wrist. Make sure that you’re sitting up straight when practicing and performing so as not to strain muscles unnecessarily
You can treat your wrist tendinitis at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). You can apply ice to your wrist for 20 minutes every two hours while keeping it elevated above the level of your heart. You should also wear a splint at night to take some pressure off of your wrist while you sleep.
Splinting your joints is one great way to do this—not only does it give your joints a break from overuse, but it can also help you maintain mobility by keeping you active while protecting you from further injury. Splints are available commercially and can be used during rest periods or while you’re sleeping at night. Your healthcare provider can also make a splint for you in the office using a mold of your hand. A custom splint helps keep your wrist in a good position so it can heal properly. Wearing a splint will protect your tendons from further injury.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. But they should be used only on an as-needed basis because they can cause stomach upset and lead to dependency over time. Cortisone injections may be used to treat specific tendon injuries in the wrist but should not be used routinely because of their potential side effects.
Physical or occupational therapy:
Physical therapists can help you regain strength, mobility, and range of motion in your wrist and fingers by designing hand therapy for musicians, depending on the extremity of their pain. They can also show you how to do everyday movements such as typing or lifting objects with less pain. Occupational therapists help patients learn ways to avoid painful activities that could cause further injury or flare-ups of symptoms.
So what causes tendonitis? Repetitive activities or excessive force being put on the tendons. A twist to the wrist can also cause this condition. You can avoid this by warming up before playing and stretching your wrist after playing. By keeping your wrists loose and limber you can reduce inflammation and thereby slow down the onset of tendonitis. Wrist tendonitis is not a condition that should be taken lightly. You need not only to consult with your physician but also to find a suitable treatment such as the one offered by Healing Health Therapy Center. Heather Mogielnicki is a certified occupational therapist whose hands-on approach could cure your problem, she can help you with specialized treatment plans that can get rid of inflammation, block pain, and even repair the damaged tendons so you may continue to play your favorite musical instruments pain-free!