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Arm Pain
Muscle Pain
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grandpafiddle
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July 18, 2020 - 7:00 pm
Member Since: March 3, 2020
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I baffled so I'm turning to the experts on this forum. Former guitar player and I've been fiddling for about a year (self taught.) I've recently been experiencing arm pain at the bend of my arm on top, not the elbow. Lower arm and bicep. Sort of like tendonitis. I've played for a year with no issues, but this has suddenly started since I've been attempting more vibrato (learning stages.) I have strong arms from physical labor in my younger years, and when I watch young ladies with skinny arms doing vibrato effortlessly, it makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong. The only time I have pain is when playing - no other movement during the day gives me problems. I'm trying to concentrate on making sure my grip is relaxed and making sure I don't have too much thumb/grip pressure. So, what am I doing wrong?

grandpa

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cid
July 18, 2020 - 7:48 pm
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So, I am not a doctor, nor do I do vibrato on a violin, but from other comments here, and my thinking. We are not doctors. If I was you, I would see a doctor so that if there is something wrong, you can nip it in the bud before causing more damage. Some people have had to stop playing for a while to do whatever needs to be done to let the arm mend. Doing it now will help prevent a longer mending time later. Just my suggestion.

Viola Time! 

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MrYikes
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July 18, 2020 - 8:30 pm
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I would practice something slow with whole notes, so that you can concentrate on your bowing only and while doing that pay attention to any tension that you feel.  To me it sounds like tension is your problem and you will want to work to remove that everywhere you find it.

I hurt my left thumb trying to unstick a D peg.  I had to stop playing for a couple of months.

Good luck to you.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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July 18, 2020 - 8:53 pm
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One possibility: try holding the violin at different angles. I experimented with this for a while last year after a shoulder injury, and found that holding my viola too far to the left tended to lead to pain in exactly the places you're describing. If that's the cause, then you may have started to notice with vibrato because vibrato requires you to bring your hand around the right side of the fingerboard more. If your instrument is angled too far left you end up pushing your elbow out in front of you.

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ELCB
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July 18, 2020 - 9:30 pm
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grandpafiddle - cid is right!  If you are in unusual pain you should go or at least call your Doctor.

Being a former guitar player, you should remember the muscles/tendons you used for heavy labor when you were younger and the fine motor skills you now use to play the violin are two different things!

I certainly don't think pain means gain!  I found it's easy to hurt yourself while learning something new, even if you "think" you're relaxing. 

 I AM NOT A DOCTOR!  "My general rule" if I feel I've just over-stressed something is I STOP playing so I don't make it worse.  Then, after a couple days if I'm not improving (or completely better) - it's off to the Doctor.

When you are healed up, maybe revisit the FM tutorials or some other beginner vibrato videos to take a closer look at what you are doing.  Maybe just slow down - some of those "young ladies with skinny arms" have probably been practicing/perfecting their vibrato since they were 4 years old!  I'm still working on mine - probably forever.

Please take this seriously - muscle/tendon heals fairly quickly, but nerves are a whole different deal.  I'm sure there's some horror stories on this forum.

 

Hope you feel better soon - Emily

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Mimi Aysha
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July 19, 2020 - 10:42 am
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@grandpafiddle 

It's not fun when stuff starts hurting, your symptoms suggest it might be golfers elbow. I've had similar issues over that last couple of months, I thought it may have been caused cleaning out our shed and hyperextended my elbow lifting something too heavy.

My sis (doc) told me it was more than likely (without a MRI) golfers elbow...and was pretty common. She told me to wear a wrap and ice it up to 4 times a day. My daughter (physical therapist and trainer) told me I had to stretch and use gentle weights.

I actually have a tens machine and that has been great, and I bought an elbow wrap that I wear on and off through the day, I have had to tone down the fiddling time, as it seems to start up again after about 20 minutes of playing.

Sis found this video for me, I started these exercises last week, and they have been very helpful, just incase it can help you.

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grandpafiddle
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July 19, 2020 - 11:11 am
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I forgot to mention that it's my left arm and the pain is on top in the bicep and forearm. I notice that when I mimic the vibrato movement without holding the violin, I feel the same pain. I'm either trying to turn my wrist too far or I just need to get used to the wrist movement while tucking my elbow towards the front??? I've watched a dozen videos trying to duplicate their movements, but I can't figure out why it only gives me problems while doing vibrato. I'm 67. Maybe it's going to take more time to get used to the wrist action? Thank you all for the suggestions. What a great group of people you are!

grandpaviolin

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 20, 2020 - 12:10 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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I don't know if I mentioned it, but I had some serious tennis elbow in my day. It started after playing an intensive week of Bruckner as a second violin section leader. I just did too much, too hard, and for too long.
Rest is obviously the best cure but I had to keep playing. I was the kind of guy who would never take time off for being sick or injured even though the Swedes in our orchestra do it quite naturally if they are hurt.
I also received some kind of shock treatment to the necessary areas which I believe was helpful but I only went twice. 🙁
Over time it disappeared.
I mostly get it when sanding very hard or any stressful movement in the wrong direction.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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damfino
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July 20, 2020 - 2:34 pm
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If rest doesn't ease the pain, I would tend to agree to check with a doctor... but I do agree it sounds like tennis elbow. The nerve pain I deal with starts at the "funny bone", and runs down my arm to my pinky and ring finger, and vibrato really aggravated at one point. It doesn't sound like that is what you are describing, so that's why I lean to the tennis elbow. Hope it heals quickly!

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MrYikes
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July 20, 2020 - 9:26 pm
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It occurs to me to ask: where is your chin on the violin.  The further to the right, the more difficult some things can get.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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July 21, 2020 - 12:02 am
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MrYikes said
It occurs to me to ask: where is your chin on the violin.  The further to the right, the more difficult some things can get.

  

It depends on the person. This may be true for people with long arms. For people with shorter arms, usually the opposite is true.

Note that, the farther to the right the chin is, the more the violin may need to be angled out in front.

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Gordon Shumway
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July 21, 2020 - 2:44 am
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@grandpafiddle  You seem to be describing pain in the crease of your left elbow, unless I've misunderstood.

Visiting a doctor, if the only time you ever get pain is when you play the violin, may be a bit OTT - all the doctor will tell you is to lay off it for a while. A visit to a violin teacher may be wiser and cheaper - there may be other problems with your posture.

Two things that occur to me are a) you may be tenser than you realise; b) your biceps may be huge and getting in the way. How tall are you? Maybe you could try borrowing a viola?

Andrew

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