Guitar elbow (tendinitis)

Lhdr

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Anyone suffer from this? I’ve got it from extensive lead playing. Similar spot to golfers elbow near funnybone. Don’t feel like stopping playing for months. Anyone have easy to understand exercises that you have found to work?

Thanks.
 

DarrellV

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I use a band around the forearm like for tennis elbow when mine acts up.

Sometimes a smaller one around the wrist to take the pressure off the fretting finger tendons.

I think you would try the one around the fore arm muscles for what you're feeling.

51-058_1000x1000-pad.jpg
 

diogoguitar

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John Petrucci has a good video on warm ups. Start it at 2:52.
Do it all before you start playing for a long time:
 

NotScott

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I had it about 2 years ago. It was so bad that I could barely move my left arm after 30 minutes of playing. Even when not playing, it was impossible to grab a 2-litre bottle out of the fridge with my left hand.

My doctor had me in physical therapy for several months and eventually it went away. They had me doing all kinds of exercises, electrical stimulation, hot packs and deep tissue massages. Of all the exercises and treatments they had me on, the two that had the most immediate relief was taping the area and a stretching exercise.

The taping consisted of using medical tape to gently pull the tissue in the area into a stretched position. In my case, I would pull the skin on my left arm just below the elbow towards me and then tape it in place. I did this for a few weeks and it definitely helped.

As for stretches, extend your hands out in front of your body with your thumbs down. Place your right hand over you left hand (if your left arm is the problem. Reverse if it is your right arm.) so that your thumbs are still down but now your palms are touching. Interlock your fingers and slowly twist the affected arm (clockwise for the left arm, counter-clockwise for the right arm) and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat as needed. Another stretch is to lower your arm by your side. lock your elbow and then with your fingers extended, bend your wrist at a 90. Then slowly raise your arm behind you while you rotate your wrist away from your body. When you reach the limit for how far you can raise your arm, hold it there for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat as needed.

I still do the stretching exercises before any gig now and I have not had any flare-ups. It took me about a year before I would say it was completely gone. It is not one of those things that you can rush. Good luck!
 

Latearrival

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I suffered from "Tennis Elbow" for perhaps 10 years before I found out what it was and how to treat it! At times it was so severe that I couldn't bend the notes on my guitar and playing a gig would be difficult and painful!

Then I found some simple exercises on You Tube (I'll see if I can find the link?)

  1. Stretch your left arm straight out in front of you, with the palm facing downwards (assuming you are right-handed). bend just your wrist so that your fingers now point towards the floor.
  2. Whilst keeping your arm straight, grasp your left hand with your right hand and gently pull your hand back towards your body. You should feel tension in the muscle that runs from your wrist to the outside of your elbow, Hold this position for about 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat several times during the day - I do this whilst watching TV - and always straight after playing!

I noticed an improvement after 2 or 3 weeks and after about a year, the issue was gone! I have been free of it for about 5 years now, but still do the stretches to keep it away!
 
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My wife is a hand therapist (that's how I met her), and she will tell you that while the exercises will help, with many repetitive motion injures, REST will get the quickest result. BUMMER I know. But consider it if you find you're not getting better.
 

BoogyWithStu

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I have had both inner and outer tendon problems (tennis elbow and golfers elbow). But this was due to heavy weight training. I had to reduce my weights and number of reps and ice the sore area a couple of times a day. It took about 4 months before it got better and about 8 months to get rid of it totally. Never had it playing guitar though, but stopping for a week or so and then reducing play time, plus ice the area will help.
 

Guitpicky

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I get tennis elbow when I’m doing something that repeatedly snaps my elbow into full extension. The trick for me is paying attention and making sure to stop extending just before the elbow joint locks at full extension. It comes from “throwing” your hand or forearm into overextension. It’s a bit like using a wall to stop a car instead of the brakes.

It sucks but it’s only going to get worse unless you stop aggravating it and let it heal. Then go back to what you were doing that caused it and make sure to watch for any over extension. You just don’t want to be locking your elbow joint repeatedly to stop your arm movement.

Good luck with it :)
 

hi13ts

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Hi friends, will you explain to me how you think you developed this malady? I ask out of curiosity because I haven't heard of this being a problem with any guitarist I know of all walks of life. I was thinking about the movements associated with playing and I can’t think of anything that would put that much constant pressure on those areas as both the movements of our fretting and picking hand are relatively delicate and it changes between songs to the point that I don’t see there being enough of consistent and severe pressure to cause that. I understand if you’re playing several hours each day non stop that it can become problematic or if you’re sitting and holding the guitar in a non-ideal posture but I assume you are seasoned guitarists with developed technique to avoid that. I don’t mean to come across as discounting the reality and severity of your problem, I’m genuinely curious with an end goal of avoiding this problem myself.
 

Lhdr

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Mine is on my fretted hand. No issues strumming. Doesn’t sound as severe as what NotScott had. Mine is not tennis elbow (top) but it’s closer to golfers (bottom), but more interior. If you put your arm at a 45 degree angle, and press with your other thumb near the funny bone and then move your fingers all over, you can fell all those tendons firing. That’s where it is. I might ad, flick your wrist and you will feel them.

I believe it developed from a combination of things. All from lead practicing. 1. Gripping the neck to tight and pressing down too hard on the fingerboard. 2. Lots of extended runs, focusing on my pinkie. I’ve been trying to use my pinkie more. Which means, with my small hands, lots of extension between my index finger and pinkie. 3. And possible the biggest problem. Always with a locked elbow in a 45 degree angle. When I stop playing and extend my arm from the 45 angle, is when I really feel it.

I think the combo of these three is how it developed for me. I might ad, I practice sitting down with the guitar on my lap.
 

hi13ts

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Mine is on my fretted hand. No issues strumming. Doesn’t sound as severe as what NotScott had. Mine is not tennis elbow (top) but it’s closer to golfers (bottom), but more interior. If you put your arm at a 45 degree angle, and press with your other thumb near the funny bone and then move your fingers all over, you can fell all those tendons firing. That’s where it is. I might ad, flick your wrist and you will feel them.

I believe it developed from a combination of things. All from lead practicing. 1. Gripping the neck to tight and pressing down too hard on the fingerboard. 2. Lots of extended runs, focusing on my pinkie. I’ve been trying to use my pinkie more. Which means, with my small hands, lots of extension between my index finger and pinkie. 3. And possible the biggest problem. Always with a locked elbow in a 45 degree angle. When I stop playing and extend my arm from the 45 angle, is when I really feel it.

I think the combo of these three is how it developed for me. I might ad, I practice sitting down with the guitar on my lap.

I understand. Thank you for clarifying. I can see how all and any of those practices could lead to or exacerbate the problem. I think what I try to keep in the front of my mind is to stay loose and flexible, as with many other skills, trying to be as efficient as I can in regards to muscle and energy expenditure. When learning or practicing specific physical parts that are demanding, I can certainly see how it can lead to this, so I also try to take breaks and stretch out lessons throughout several days to avoid fatigue.

Im sure some muscle/tendon fatigue is inevitable with age and years of consistent playing, but I hope to mitigate any possible physical maladies so I appreciate you sharing your problem as well as what you think caused them so we all can be mindful of it. I hope you get to feeling better and forming corrected habits to the ones you found detrimental.
 

NightShift88

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Hi friends, will you explain to me how you think you developed this malady? I ask out of curiosity because I haven't heard of this being a problem with any guitarist I know of all walks of life. I was thinking about the movements associated with playing and I can’t think of anything that would put that much constant pressure on those areas as both the movements of our fretting and picking hand are relatively delicate and it changes between songs to the point that I don’t see there being enough of consistent and severe pressure to cause that. I understand if you’re playing several hours each day non stop that it can become problematic or if you’re sitting and holding the guitar in a non-ideal posture but I assume you are seasoned guitarists with developed technique to avoid that. I don’t mean to come across as discounting the reality and severity of your problem, I’m genuinely curious with an end goal of avoiding this problem myself.
Some people apply vibrato with their arms/elbows, pulling and pushing can cause problems...adding vibrato to a bent note, if it’s a big part of your style. I’ve dealt with this for years, but it’s never gotten extremely bad...comes and goes.
 

HogmanA

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Mine is on my fretted hand. No issues strumming. Doesn’t sound as severe as what NotScott had. Mine is not tennis elbow (top) but it’s closer to golfers (bottom), but more interior. If you put your arm at a 45 degree angle, and press with your other thumb near the funny bone and then move your fingers all over, you can fell all those tendons firing. That’s where it is. I might ad, flick your wrist and you will feel them.

I believe it developed from a combination of things. All from lead practicing. 1. Gripping the neck to tight and pressing down too hard on the fingerboard. 2. Lots of extended runs, focusing on my pinkie. I’ve been trying to use my pinkie more. Which means, with my small hands, lots of extension between my index finger and pinkie. 3. And possible the biggest problem. Always with a locked elbow in a 45 degree angle. When I stop playing and extend my arm from the 45 angle, is when I really feel it.

I think the combo of these three is how it developed for me. I might ad, I practice sitting down with the guitar on my lap.


Sorry to hear of your problem.

I think sitting down could be exacerbating it. The problem here is that the joint which is designed to move is restricted into one position. The simple change of practicing standing up allows for even small changes in the angle of the elbow which helps reduce these strain symptoms.
A lower guitar position on a strap will allow the angle of the elbow to become less acute.
If you must sit down for some of the time, you can have the guitar hang on the strap so it is at the same height as it would be if you were standing. In those situations, I normally let it hang to the side - preferable than having it in my lap.

Otherwise I start to get tennis elbow (or something similar at least) from restricted movement.
 

ARandall

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Visit a sports doctor or a physio. Whilst it's fascinating to see others with the same issues, it does absolutely nothing toward figuring out why you develop these issues, nor does it allow you to work on alleviating the situation
 

Latearrival

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Hi friends, will you explain to me how you think you developed this malady? I ask out of curiosity because I haven't heard of this being a problem with any guitarist I know of all walks of life. I was thinking about the movements associated with playing and I can’t think of anything that would put that much constant pressure on those areas as both the movements of our fretting and picking hand are relatively delicate

I am amazed that you haven't met anyone with this issue! It probably isn't particularly common, but does affect a lot of guitarists

The "Cause" is the same as any injury resulting from repetitive and over-use of muscles. I am also surprised that you don't think guitar playing doesn't give your arm muscles a work out?

With any activity where movement is involved, repetitive movement causes the muscles to grow and strengthen (you must remember how difficult it was to hold an "F" chord when you started?) When muscles grow, they also shorten. The shortened muscles pull on the tendons attaching them to the bones (in this case the elbow) and inflamation of the tedonds (tendonitis) occurs!

The solution (as with many sporting injuries) is to stretch the muscles after playing (as I described in my earlier post) so that the tension on the tendon is decreased, and tendonitis (tennis elbow) is reduced/eliminated/avoided!

It's not specifically related to how you stand, sit, or hold the guitar in my opinion. It just results from 1,000s of hours playing and practicing, and using your arm muscles, without stretching!
 
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LocoTex

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I'm getting mouse elbow from all my lockdown surfing.
 

HogmanA

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excerpt from here:


"Most elbow flexion problems are temporary and get better with conservative treatment.

Problems caused by
overuse or repetitive motion can often be fixed by reducing the amount of time you spend on the activity or modifying your hand or arm position.

Taking frequent breaks from the activity and stretching occasionally can also be helpful. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, stretches and exercises can help you protect or improve your elbow flexion."



Standing will absolutely "modify your hand or arm position".
 

Latearrival

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excerpt from here:


"Most elbow flexion problems are temporary and get better with conservative treatment.

Problems caused by
overuse or repetitive motion can often be fixed by reducing the amount of time you spend on the activity or modifying your hand or arm position.

Taking frequent breaks from the activity and stretching occasionally can also be helpful. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, stretches and exercises can help you protect or improve your elbow flexion."



Standing will absolutely "modify your hand or arm position".


Except that Tennis Elbow/ Tendonitis is NOT an Elbow Flexion problem!....
 

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