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A tough week, and a solution for tough meat!!!

Posted by fiddlepogo on Monday, June 14, 2010

As some of you know, I also have a couple of Stratocaster electrics and a "parts Strat".

I really enjoy tweaking various things on them to see if I can't improve the tone.  A week ago I was doing just that... and the tweaks were so successful, and the tone was so sweet, that I kept playing and playing and didn't want to quit....

And all of a sudden something in my index finger kind of seized up.  And it HURT!!!

And it kind of scared me, because the last time that happened, I couldn't play guitar for a long time, because the finger felt so weak.

At first I thought it was bursitis, and that may have been part of it.

But then I saw this article on OOS (Occupation Overuse Syndrome) and the description of some of the injuries sounded like what happened... it happened suddenly, like all of a sudden a finger muscle spasmed and pinched a nerve or something like that

I had some gigs the next day, and tried to play through them, with a little help from Ibuprofen.  It made me think I needed to give the finger a LONG rest.

So I've been laying off of guitar... and fiddle.   Fiddle isn't as much of an irritant, but I'm likely to play fiddle longer than guitar, on the average.

So to do one gig, I bought a baritone ukelele.  I also used my short scale travel banjo.  Both have quite low tension on the strings.

Normally I do just a few banjo tunes sandwiched in between longer fiddle and guitar sections, instead, I started on banjo, did about 5 minstrel era tunes, 5 mountain tunes, and about 5 Pete Seegerish tunes, showing the different styles clawhammer banjo music got used for.  Then I switched to Baritone Ukulele, and did some Hawaiian songs as well as some non Hawaiian stuff.  And it worked... some strain on the finger, it was definitely tired, but not nearly as bad as with guitar.

The bursitis type symptoms seem to have passed, leaving just the crampy symptom.  Then the night before last I woke up with a 'Charley Horse" cramp in my left leg ..  and it occurred to me that the two might be connected, and that I might not be getting enough potassium, because I'm not eating nearly as much cornmeal mush as I used to, which I make with a potassium/sodium chloride blend.  Potassium apparently has anti-cramping properties.

Warm water and long walks to promote circulation seem to help.

I also started playing piano keyboard again this week.  I started playing that during the '90's when I was fiddle-less and getting into computers, because I wanted to interface the keyboard with the computer via MIDI so I could input the melodies of songs I had written into notation software.  Not only that, I had figured out a way of playing that avoided using the left index finger the first time I had this overuse injury.  Keyboard is sort of like chopped liver for me now that I'm fiddling again, so you can imagine I was getting fairly desperate!


Re the tough meat:

I bought a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-reducing Grilling Machine, and some carne asada beef.  And the first two slices cooked fast, but were tough.  So I bought a bottle of "Chuck"- $2 Charles Shaw wine at Trader Joe's, and marinated the beef slices in it., and it's a lot better that way.  And yes, it's very low fat.

There's something very primal about grilling your own meat and  I think I'll be doing this more often.  I'm usually not a very good cook, because I'm very impatient when I'm hungry.  The George Foreman grill is very quick, though, especially on thin slices of carne asada.

Cleanup is not as bad as I had feared, because, as Tommy Jarrell used to say

"You just can't beat them paper towels!!!"

(I picked that one up on a thread here!!! Thanks!!!)

1 comment on “A tough week, and a solution for tough meat!!!”

BGT Says:
Monday, June 14, 2010 @1:53:50 PM

I play fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and Telecaster everyday. I get soreness in a finger here and there, tingling, joint pain. It's usually gone the next day and I keep playing. If you bend strings a lot on your Strat, use finger vibrato, that could be considered hard playing. That is where I usually have a problem, when I'm bending a step and a half with fast passages in between. I think the overuse idea is probably right but I'm not sure it is wise to have lengthy layoffs from playing. Most pro string players have problems from time to time, tingling in the fingertips, soreness, wrist pain, numbness. Barring circulation problems, most players keep on playing and consider it part of the process.
One good thing to do is stay hydrated, make sure you drink water. Dehydration can cause cramps in overused muscles and tendons need water too. Tendonitis can flare up at any time. When I start feeling sore, I let my arm hang down so the blood can flow for a little bit and then I change my technique, my attack. I might just start playing with a lighter touch or a slower tune or less bow strokes, a lighter pick, just a change. After 20 minutes or so, I'm good to go back to a more wrenching tune. I think the secret is don't give up, don't quit, don't be put off by a little pain. I'd check that leg cramping at night, could be a circulation problem. Or just lack of hydration.

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