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Author Topic: Guitar Playing Fatigue  (Read 3091 times)

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rabidgerry

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Guitar Playing Fatigue
« on: Time Format »

Hi guy's I am starting this topic so anyone with any contributions at all in the realm of combating guitar playing fatigue can share their tips and solutions here.

I have always suffered a bit of this I have to admit, but now it's getting down right ridiculous.

I played two gigs in a row on Friday and Saturday and on Saturday's gig I was gone by about 4 songs and basically had to wing the rest of the show.  My hand loses all strength.  No pain or anything like that, just cannot keep my fingers locked against the fret board.

Now their are contributing factors to this, the night before we stayed with the band we played a show with who basically kept me awake all night long, and then we had to rise early in the morning to drive across Scotland to get a boat back to Ireland for the next show.  I didn't get any sleep on the boat or whilst driving either.  By the time it came to show time on Saturday I was out on my feet.  This is not ideal circumstances.  So as I mentioned earlier, four songs in my hand was gone.

My left hand has really good grip, and because I lift weights I expect my strength to be pretty good.  I think a combination of playing and being super tense just annihilates my hand to the point I can barely fret chords.  I'm always tense at shows and I cannot help it.

If anyone has any advice or tips to help with this please share here for myself and others who might have issues.  Just so it's clear, I don't have pain issues, just lose all power during most gigs at some point, usually near the end of a set, however occasionally I will get early fatigue like last night in a 10 song set.

I found these links here which may help but I want to hear from you guys on this subject.

http://www.300guitars.com/300s-tips/300-tip-preventing-hand-fatigue/


http://www.300guitars.com/articles/hand-strength-for-guitar-players-eliminating-hand-fatigue/
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Samuraipanda

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

Yeah, I get that too. Sometimes my ring finger just gets weak and I struggle to even make barre chords. I think I've identified one of my problems is holding my god damn smart phone and an Xbox controller too much. I think I'm actually causing muscle stiffness and poor muscle memory. My sister is a physical therapist and she has me stretching my hands and fingers daily with some Bengay cream to loosen the muscles.
Another thing I've been doing I learned from a Joe Satriani interview.... about 10 minutes before you are going to play, run your hands and forearms under hot water in the sink. Do this for about 3-5 minutes.
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tomy

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #2 on: Time Format »

Hi gerry &Sam,

I've broken my shoulder couple month ago. So I had surgery to get my arm "fixed" since then I practice some physical activities to warm up, even if  i didn't get 100 % my fingers back, I'm feeling way better after each gigs . I should have done that before. Most of those exercices are not about  strength but more about stretching and you must do it everyday, and not only on gig day, it takes 15-20 minutes ! I also learned to save efforts as much as i can while playing.

So many peoples have bad experiences, I'm not sure there a good formula

Tomy
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Systematic Chaos

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #3 on: Time Format »

I had something similar, mostly when trying to fret barré chords after 7/8 of any given set.
I also hit the gym on a daily basis, min of 1 1/2 hrs. But seriously, of all body muscle groups addressed throughout the week, finger muscles and tendons get zip attention when lifting weights.
My issue got solved by accident...I bought a guitar with an ever so slight backbow in the neck that I couldn't get rid of with the truss rod. So I thought what the heck and strung it up with a set of 11-50 in standard tuning.
The neck is flat again and the truss rod works...and after 2 weeks of getting accustomed to the higher tension strings (really working out fretting and fingers) the issues are gone. I also wouldn't wanna go back to a lighter gauge.
Try D'Addario 11-50 Balanced Tension (EXL115BT), worked miracles for me
« Last Edit: Time Format by Systematic Chaos »
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Dante

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #4 on: Time Format »

Yeah, I get that too. Sometimes my ring finger just gets weak and I struggle to even make barre chords. I think I've identified one of my problems is holding my god damn smart phone and an Xbox controller too much. I think I'm actually causing muscle stiffness and poor muscle memory. My sister is a physical therapist and she has me stretching my hands and fingers daily with some Bengay cream to loosen the muscles.
Another thing I've been doing I learned from a Joe Satriani interview.... about 10 minutes before you are going to play, run your hands and forearms under hot water in the sink. Do this for about 3-5 minutes.

Great advice  :thumb-up:  I thought that hot water trick was just something I did....didn't realize others were doing it too. I started that when riding my motorcycle to work in the winter....I'd go run hot water over my hands before working on the computer.

I use a pen tool and graphic tablet because the constant repetitive motion of the mouse button was too painful - I developed tennis elbow(s). This hurts my forearms very much if I don't stretch first (thought I had carpal tunnel).
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tomy

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #5 on: Time Format »

oh ! Gerry,  I also forgot... guitar strap is quite important. A confortable one makes a real difference !

So you should choose one that matches your leather trousers  ;D
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van Sinn

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #6 on: Time Format »

Couple of points to tensions..

Stress in life, job-wise, lack of sleep/rest, or in private, like family or financials, can drag a lot of energy off the system.
I've seen ever so often, on myself and others, that when stress do kick-in, many seem to drop their guards WRT proper foods and as such, keeping the correct vitamin and mineral balance, and proper lubrication.
Are you aware that joints and nerves need oils? Salads with cold-pressed virgin olive oil is a must-have.

I read many doing training, but are you doing proper warm up, not just before the training, but also before playing, and are you doing proper flexing/stretching after?

Whatever, there can be many reasons to loosing strength. Acupuncture can be very helpful; I've used it for close to 30 years with good results.

Best of luck with recovery and preventive measures ;)
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herbyguitar

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #7 on: Time Format »

I rub my forearms and back of hands down with a heat rub about an hour before. I use new strings and spray a 'very' light mist of silicone on the fret board about 20 minutes before. I warm up for 15 minutes by playing stretched scales and chords to get my forearm muscles loosened up. Last, I take a 5 minute break just before playing.
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rabidgerry

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #8 on: Time Format »

A lot of good and interesting advice here which I certainly am going to experiment with.

When I started trying to play last night I noticed my left hand was still a little weak from the exhaustion it suffered on Saturday night.  It kinda came too after an hour or so of playing.  I suffer from a circulation condition known as raynaud's syndrome which is particuarly shit in winter as it's colder.  This probably has something to do with struggling to warm up before a show.  Also sometimes I just don't get the opportunity, because there just isn't anywhere to warm up!  Different venues different circumstances and conditons, you never know what you are going to get some times.

As for tension, big stresses in my life, a gig is stressful never mind the other stuff.  But recently went through two interviews to get a new job and thankfully got the job, but who knows, perhaps I haven't recovered yet fully, it was only last Monday after all.

The oils thing, probably a good idea, my joints "click" and crack as it is and I used to take cod liver oil.  I have fish oil supplements I guess I could get back on so that's something I can totally address. 

The hot water thing sounds good, sounds like something crazy I used to do when we played in the garage era stuck out in the freeing cold. I used to do this because of my raynaud's but stopped because my skin would soften on my hand and callus' could potentially break whilst the skin was soft.

Acupunture, I kno someone who had an injury to their foot and was told that they would be on cruches for over a year and have a limp for a while.  Well they went to acupunture and the limp and cruches were history!  I may look into this Van.

SC about the string guage, I see the method to installing heavier guage strings, but I honestly don't think that is the answer for me anyways, that's just going to make it harder to play if I get fatigued.  I get that you are building strength by using heavier strings but, malmsteen doesn't need those 11's and he don't seem to have hand issues  :D
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Guitars:1986 Westone Dimension IV, 1989 Korean Squier Fat Strat Silver Series, 1998 Korean Squier Fat Strat, MIM Fender Fat Strat - FR, Squier Stagemaster Deluxe - Thru Neck x 2, Squier Stagemaster 22 Fret - 1st Gen, 1999 Squier Showmaster - Anniversary Edition, Squier Showmaster, Tokai FV40 Flying V

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Rusty

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #9 on: Time Format »

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) ?  I had that years ago, It totally wiped out my left hand and arm and finger muscles playing classical guitar without doing any warm up stretches and exercises before lifting the instrument. It took about two months before I was recovered again, I couldn't even hold down the lightest of touch on the fretboard. Gigs, jams, rehersals, lessons etc = all canceled.

I know several players that have had RSI at some point, including piano players, violin players and bass players.

Its an absolute must to do finger and hand stretches warm ups for about 10 minutes away from your instrument especially as you get older,
And yep, cod liver oil is a good supplement.

Good luck RG, hope thats of any help.

 
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Dante

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #10 on: Time Format »

Fish oil does wonders. I eat trail mix, because nuts have a lot of oils too. I give my dog fish oil, maybe I should take a couple shots before work? haha

I never thought about the life stress as a contributing factor, but I was in my worst pain during my worst job. Since that, my pain is not gone, but it's a lot easier to deal with. I think van is spot on (again).

Hot water will not only warm up those finger muscles, it'll increase circulation in your hand (that's why they get red), and loosen up those crusty oils (if any) in those old knuckles. However, I never considered the fact that I could rip up my fingers with soft skin on my hands. I guess you better wait a while before playing and keep your hands in your pockets for warmth ...or forgoe the water and get gloves ;)
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Kim

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #11 on: Time Format »

Interesting points.  I'll definitely look into some ideas myself.

I don't really get fatigued from a long playing period but instead it happens during certain parts of one or two songs.  For instance one of our songs has an outro riff that is repetitive and at half the tempo of the rest of the song (like a "mosh" part I guess you could call it) and about half way through that my primary diad fingers will become very stiff.
         
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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #12 on: Time Format »

Kim - This is true, some songs will demand a repetitive holding of barre chords for me and eventually, my dang thumb gets a cramp behind the neck, or my finger locks up. It is the weirdest thing, and probably not a fatigue issue at all, just something I am going through. My index finger & sometimes my middle finger, get locked down to the palm of my hand. It's so strange...I've had it happen once or twice while playing guitar, but it really acts like a cramp of sorts.

My dad explained the same thing...check this out; he had surgery to repair it. What was going on? He says the tendons in your forearms...that go all the way across the top of your hands and control your fingers....have these little tubes they travel through. Those tendons develop small burrs (growths) on them as we age, making them get stuck on one side or the other of those tubes or channels. Like a guitar string that has a knot in it, and can't pass over the roller nut easily. (<--how's that guitar analogy?)

Anyway, Dad's all well now. I have avoided surgery so far, but fear it may be in my future. The 'locking up' thing doesn't happen often, but the last time it did, I was very dehydrated. Might have something to do with it.
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van Sinn

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #13 on: Time Format »

Yup, dehydration and lack of lubrication. No kiddin'..
Come to think of it.. fat fish, like salmon and herring, is an excellent lubricator.
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rnolan

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Re: Guitar Playing Fatigue
« Reply #14 on: Time Format »

I take a daily does of Cramp Eze Forte (for night cramps says on the box).  It has homeopathic copper, magnesium and rutin which all help release the mussels.  Many body builder types use magnesium (high dose, have to get it over the counter from a pharmacy here) as it is very beneficial getting the tight mussels etc to let go after exercise (Mike B swears by it after a gym session).  I get cramps in my right arm/wrist from the mouse so now I've switched to left handed mousing, took a little while to get used to but relieves my right arm so it's much less a problem now.  Also my spots physio dude showed me a couple of good stretch exercises which also help allot.
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