Long post, please bear with me.
I’m paying some dues this winter, practicing 2-3 hours a day for 5-6 days a week on average. This is causing me to run into quite a bit of stiffness and cramping in the right hand, made worse by the fact that I’m a bit older now than when I last played bluegrass in the mid ‘80s to mid ‘90s.
Around 3 years ago I developed a bad case of tennis elbow in both arms. I went through extensive physical therapy and the condition went away in about 6 months. This taught me things about the muscles and tendons in the forearm and their connections to both the elbow and hand.
Ok, here’s the point. The other day as my right hand was predictably cramping up while practicing, I thought about my tennis elbow stretches & exercises so I tried a few of them. My right hand immediately loosened up.
If it happens to you, try this. Take a break for half a minute or so, resting your right arm on top of the resonator. Reach over with your left hand and massage the muscles and tendons in your right forearm. Then try playing again. If your right hand feels better, you’ll see what I mean.
I’m not a medical professional so I won’t go further but my suggestion is, if you have severe stiffness or cramping in your right hand, go online and check out therapies for tennis elbow or better yet, talk to a doctor or licensed physical therapist. I think some of the therapies for tennis elbow could potentially help.
Stretching and yoga help me. Also the more I play, the stronger both hands get. Funny how finger style takes so much more hand strength than claw hammer.
Just a thought about cramping anywhere in your body - generally, it tends to be more likely to happen if you are dehydrated. Dehydration can be subtle. For example, if you are getting all your fluids from coffee and whisky, you will have a mild level of dehydration. At least that’s what my doctor said.
Edited by - gcpicken on 01/20/2021 09:49:34
If you're getting all your fluids from whiskey and coffee you are already a professional musician.
Just kidding, but good point about hydrating.
I would also like to put in a word for the Cowling exercises, which were developed in the 70's (?) specifically for musicians.
I actually was turned on to these exercises by a student, years ago. If I am remembering correctly, it was Jay Source, who is now a very fine pro classical guitarist and teacher. Anyway, I have used several of these exercises as warm ups and to help maintain flexibility and dexterity.
'Blank Canvas' 11 min
'Bartlett Banjo Mic' 26 min
'Todd banjo' 1 hr
'Protec' 2 hrs