- The Good News: I am back to practicing every day!
- The Bad News: I am experiencing a lot of hand cramping when practicing!
Hand cramping is caused by muscle spasms, which is uncontrollable or involuntary muscle contraction. These spasms or contractions do not allow the muscle to become relax and cause pain prompting me to stop playing every few minutes until the pain subsides. I am experiencing these pains in both hands at the bottom of my thumbs.
I experienced hand cramping when I first picked up the fiddle and began learning, but it has returned with a vengeance. Hand cramping can be caused by a number of conditions:
- electrolyte imbalances
- exercise in high temperatures
- diabetic stiff hand syndrome
- overuse injuries
I don’t believe my hand cramping is the result of the first four causes listed above, however, at 63 years of age, I do know I have some arthritis in my hands, and this arthritis is aggravated when I overuse my fingers, hands and forearms.
If you have been following my blog, you know I run a home business selling jams, salsas, bbq sauces and other jarred foods on the internet, at craft shows, and in a few dozen retail locations. We are in our busy season right now, have been for the past couple of months, and this will continue right up until the holidays. A case of full jars weighs on average about 20 pounds, and by the end of the year we will sell about 3000 cases. From the time a case is produced until it is sold, we handle each case, on average, six times. That comes to 120 pounds per case and about 360,000 pounds a year. Since I do the majority of case handling, I am probably lifting or moving about 300,000 pounds of cases, most of it during this busy season. On top of that, I lift each jar individually twice when labeling it, not to mention all the finger and wrist movement involved in labeling. Is it any wonder I suffer from overuse injuries?
I believe this is the main reason why I am experiencing so much hand cramping at this point, and it seems to become even worse as I try to learn and play songs up to tempo. Why would playing up to tempo make the problem worse. I think it is because this is new for me, and as speed up my playing, I tend to become more intense and lose a degree of flexibility and looseness in my hands. I grip the bow and the neck of my fiddle tighter.
So, what’s the solution? Well, I can’t give up my business, but I can go back to doing my exercises that I wrote about a few months ago, and fell out of when my initial cramping stopped and all was well. With that in mind, I am reviewing and re-starting these exercises in the hope it will help alleviate some of my cramping:
- Physical Conditioning, Flexibility and Coordination
- Wrist, Hand and Finger Stretches
- Thumb Pain in Bowing Hand
Hopefully, paying a renewed attention to and performing these exercises will help with my current round of hand cramping and pain, as I look forward to the off season when my hands will get a rest!
Do you experience hand cramping and pain when playing? What are you doing to help remediate it. I am always looking for tips and hints.