Battling Shoulder Pain

It seems at some point, all fiddlers experience pain from playing their fiddles, and if we are middle aged to seniors, pain can be just part of fiddling, like it is part of life. Whether it is in the hands, arms, neck or back, it’s never fun, but we compensate, treat and endure because we like fiddlin around with our fiddles. Up until now, most of my pain, or more precisely, discomfort and fatigue, has been in my hands and left arm, but about ten days ago I started to experience a slight gnawing pain and burning sensation just below my left shoulder traveling towards my neck. Trapezius muscle strain? Rotator cuff injury?

The sensation is located on the left side, begins at the back of my shoulder, and goes up into my lower neck, in what is called the upper trapezius area. It’s not severe, but I don’t want it to get worse, either.

Now, I could attribute this pain to the fact that our business is beginning to pick back up for what will be a long and busy season, and this requires a lot of lifting and maneuvering of cases of food that weigh quite a bit. Or, I could attribute this pain to the fact that as Winter wanes and the weather becomes nicer, I have been out in the yard as many days as I can working after the winter period of hibernation and inactivity. My current project involves rebuilding a retaining wall that has me swinging a pickaxe, lifting concrete blocks and shoveling a lot of gravel and dirt by hand. I could also attribute the pain to something I am doing when holding my fiddle, which could be any number of things. Or, finally, is it a combination of all these activities? The pain and discomfort seem to be felt more in the morning before I am loose, right after my daily fiddling sessions, and again in the evening.

So far I have been doing some easy stretching exercises and apply a heating pad in the evening to increase circulation in that area. I have been doing a lot of reading and watching YouTube videos on the subject, but there is just so much information out there it gets a bit confusing. There is not too much I can do as far as cutting back on my business activities. I have to pay the bills. As far as working on the retaining wall, I’ve eased off. And, I have cut back on my fiddle practice, even dividing up my session into two or three shorter sessions in order to monitor my discomfort during the day and rest between playing times. I am also paying particular attention in how I am holding my fiddle with my left arm and between my chin and shoulder concentrating on any muscle tightness, tension or discomfort.

I guess I will continue in this fashion until at least the beginning of this coming week. If I still notice the same amount of discomfort or an increase in it, I’m going to make an appointment with an orthopedist for an evaluation of the area.

So that has been my fiddle experience for this week, and because of it, I have not taken on anything new, just practicing what I know.

How about you? Do you experience any shoulder discomfort when you play, and what are you doing to mitigate it?

  11 comments for “Battling Shoulder Pain

  1. MoonShadows
    March 25, 2020 at 9:49 am


    I never heard of qigong exercises. I will have to look it up.  

  2. MoonShadows
    March 25, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Perhaps I should have said playing isn’t causing and physical pain now; pain in my ears from playing is another thing altogether. 😎 

    • Peter
      March 25, 2020 at 7:40 am

      @moonshadows – Oh, the feeling of disbelief when your finger comes down on the wrong note, or finding out you’ve drifted sharp the next time you draw on an open string…
      I feel that pain, Jim.
      For what it’s worth, I’ve also started doing qigong exercises during the day to compensate for the lockdown inactivity. You don’t go anywhere, but your whole body gets a gentle but thorough workout and all your joints are opened up and loosened. Lots of material on the Internet: find a style you’re comfortable with. I stopped these exercises a couple of years ago (foolishly), and I’m glad I have my old notes.

  3. Rick M
    March 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    I didn’t see any mention of ice in your post. I injured my rotator cuff several months ago. Heat, ice and heat seems to provide the most relief. The gentle mobility type exercises seem to be the trick to healing, but the ice pack reduces inflammation 

    • March 24, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      As it turns out, I don’t think it was a rotator cuff injury, but just muscle stain from doing too much outside too fast. I am feeling so much better, and playing is not causing any pain at all now.

  4. MoonShadows
    March 17, 2020 at 8:24 am


    I was trying to move your post over to this topic and I accidentally deleted it. Sorry! By all means, post your story in this topic or start a new topic if you like. I’m sure other would like to read it.

    EDIT: I still had a copy of your post in my email, so I will reproduce it here..

    Hi Moonshadows,

    You a very welcome;  the system really does work and I welcome your feedback but it will take some time so please do NOT give up !

    If you need some further guidance just refer to MY Story which I may have emailed in the past?

    Perhaps if I send you a ‘clean’ copy you might want to publish it on your web page in order to give encouragement to others who have similar health problems.

    Very Best Wishes

    Stewart (73)

    PS Why not email Master Lam ?

  5. MoonShadows
    March 16, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Just found this on YouTube. I am going to watch it later when I have some time. It is almost 2 hours.

  6. Stewart
    March 16, 2020 at 7:26 am

    Sorry the name is Master Lam Kam Chuen (not Chen): Stewart

    • MoonShadows
      March 16, 2020 at 8:31 am


      And thanks for the name clarification. 


  7. Stewar
    March 16, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Hello, Excellent article.
    I had a very bad shoulder accident and was in extreme pain.
    I was visiting my wife in hospital and over reached the ticket machine for entrance to the car park.
    My remedy as always was to reach for the ever faithful book by Master Lam Kam Chen entitled: The Way Of Energy (Stand Still be Fit) actually Stand Still Like a Tree is just as meaningful. The publisher in the UK was Gaia Books and there is also a corresponding DVD showing all of the Stand Still like a Tree exercises. I have followed these exercises on and off since1996 and have indeed met Master Lam in London to thank him personally and have him autograph my copies of his books in Chinese and English. I believe he now resides in the US. Hope this helps since the cost is minimal and may be of great benefit.

    • MoonShadows
      March 16, 2020 at 8:31 am


      Thanks for that. I will look the book and video up. Appreciate it.


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